Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Last Scion PART 2

On February 28, 2009, the Scion car company put on a free metal festival in Atlanta, GA. This is the story of my journey there and back.


I caught an unexpected glance at Karen’s pubic hair as she threw the quilt and sheets off of A.J.’s bed in a frenzy. She lept up and at the two sheet-ply doors, twisted a blue robe around her meager body, and tossed the would-be intruder away like a dead mouse. He went back inside the house without complaint. We waited for A.J. to return.

We had shared liquor and tales, and now shared a growing sense of the truly weird, as if detecting the first scent of a paper-mill that had mysteriously appeared in the front yard. The rain had not yet let up, but I began to feel the decided necessity of moving on, as, it seemed, did Karen. I had told her about a local youth hostel and made the offer to pay for a night there. But we waited for A.J. It took no more than seven agitated minutes for him to return. I told him that I was leaving; I actually wanted to sleep that night and the cold wouldn’t allow it. Karen angrily told him that the man in the house had nearly broken the door down, and A.J. dismissively tried to console her. I said my goodbyes. He offered to walk me a few blocks up the street. I told him I was fine but he insisted. I divided a bit of vodka into a bottle for myself, and Karen got up to hug me goodbye. She sent me off without giving any indication that she was leaving. She asked me to take care of myself. Then A.J. and I set off up the street, through the rain, towards the intersection where we had encountered each other earlier in the evening.

While we walked he told me stories about a trumpeter he may have been related to, his mother and the trials and tribulations of moving her home all over the country. He was a traveler, claimed to be a carpenter by trade; highly charismatic, an Atlanta resident of fifteen years; I didn’t know how long he had been homeless. He never talked about it and I didn’t either. I wonder now whether I had been taken in by A.J.’s pride in his porch, or if I had been the beneficiary of his bountiful generosity. Maybe he doesn’t identify as Homeless. Maybe he identified me as Homeless. Maybe he has proper pity for a wet idiot. I still said nothing. Double the coward, I thought, loosing the evening’s narrative in his loose talk about the musicians he knew. I was wondering how long until I would crave to be dry and slipping out of my reverie, but was all the same feeling grand at that moment about my adventure. I split off with him just past a small flood in a Pep Boys parking lot, taking his blessings and good tidings.

I had encountered A.J. in a similar fashion earlier that evening. I was breaking free of the empty Masquerade back lot, where I’d been hoping to grab a post-sound check interview with whomever. After mucking my way onto the back lot, I found I had missed Mastodon and High on Fire by an hour. That plan foiled and the rain getting harder, I began to walk back the mile towards downtown when I ran into him. He asked me if I had come from the Masque and wanted to talk music. I told him that I was in town for the big fest tomorrow. He said it was a great idea, that he loved music, and loved listening to bands behind the Masque from his porch. I don’t really remember what he talked about then, but I told him that I hadn’t lined up lodging, but knew I had passed a youth hostel on my way. He told me he knew of a cheaper place than the one to which I was heading. $11.50 a night, he said. That just can’t be beat. He showed me up the block to a stone building painted white, and walked inside like it was his job. Friend of his lived here. The interior looked like a tiny nursing home. There was a set of glass doors to the immediate left, darkened and locked, and a steep flight of stairs directly in front of us. A large woman who looked like a child’s doll was standing near a small office. Two grown men were putting a puzzle together on the floor. A shorter woman strode out of an open doorway next to the stairs, brushing someone’s bullshit off her arms. She looked like she had spent every night of her life in the tiny cubicle I called an office. She knew A.J. He asked if I could stay in his friend’s room. She obsequiously declined. They argued their respective points by blinking Morse code at each other while releasing a varied stream of grunts and sighs. Then she looked right through me and said, trying as hard as she could to be frank, that I did not want to spend the night in that nasty-ass room. One of the men on the floor looked up at me with morning due in his eyes and offered to stay with me. I was flattered, however I concurred with the woman from the office and told A.J. so. We left and he said, "then let me put you up at my house." I trusted the world for the hell of it. We went to a store, bought a bottle of cheap vodka, and marched the blocks back to where we had met.

We walked up a flight of stone steps in front of a nearby house, turned left, and entered the screened-in porch where A.J. lived, and Karen sometimes stayed. It completely contained almost all the contents of a small apartment and had no electricity. She woke up quickly with a faint trace of alarm. I poured out small cups of vodka, one straight and one with Coke, and gave A.J. $17. $11.50 was for his landlord, who lived in the porch’s house. He left to pay his landlord and to pick up some groceries with the rest of the money. Karen sat up in the bed and told me what a nuisance A.J. is. You can never hear him when he talks, she said. She delicately stubbed out half of a Kool and placed it on the headboard. She groaned and creaked while waking up. Then she looked at me and we met.

I asked her about herself and she told me about her recent jail time, her reawakened addiction to crack, and her continuing devotion to God. Karen had been addicted to crack for twenty-two years. She told me that it isnt’t an enjoyable drug. It’s jittery, itchy, and none too pleasurable. She traced her addiction to crack to an alcohol problem she noticed when she was 13 years old, after eight years of being raped by her father.

“I grew up in a very alcoholic, dysfunctional, paranoid-schizophrenic environment. I had two sisters and two brothers and an alcoholic mother and an alcoholic father. A lot of gunplay, a lot of violence, a lot of breaking of doors, windows, glass, furniture. Lot of beatings. A lot of emotional abuse. Lot of sexual abuse.” She began when she started drinking her father’s lemon kool-aid and vodka, which he would leave on the nightstand while he was having sex with her. “Nobody noticed,” she said. “I couldn’t tell you at the time that I was trying to disappear; I couldn’t put it in those words, but that is what I was trying to do.” She started smoking crack when she was twenty-one. When describing how her addiction feels, she used all of the English language’s negative adjectives. And she hates having sex for crack.

“Living on the street, I’ve been beaten, stabbed, raped, shot. I have one sister that I’m in contact with; she lives in Arizona. I don’t have family. I don’t have friends. I don’t have family…And I’ve got a bad haircut.” And her last hope is with God. She wants to have a house, a girlfriend, and a job with her craft of building cabinets. She doesn’t believe she values anything anymore, but thinks others should value the freedom to do what they want to do, when they want to.

I don’t know what to do with this story except admonish the metal community for being more fortunate than Karen. This is an irrational impulse. It’s my way of criticizing the genre for relying heavily on abstractions of pain and horror for inspiration without promoting justice, but also to undercut that criticism enough that I still want to participate. I’m a hypocrite and a piece of shit.

Metal heads, myself included, should feel like pieces of shit for engaging with a reality rendered irreversibly bleak and disgusting by our art if that vision of reality is a fantasy into which we escape from perceptions of violence and/or senses of powerlessness. Seeking to escape the reality of violence is a passively violent act. Being aware of violence and feeling powerless are conditions that demand action. Often there is nothing more to do than pay attention. Attending to that which is deplorable is neither simple nor easy, but if done properly, it is honest.

The same sounds that provide the avenue of the escape, have the power to lift us up and empower us to change. Imagine if Slayer opened every performance of “Angel of Death” by saying “We wrote this song because we are desensitized to genocide. Dance! Dance! Dance!” or “There is a genocide being perpetrated right now in Darfur! Until you stop it, you will feel immensely frustrated. Now DANCE DANCE DANCE!” Imagine if Pig Destroyer wrote a song about Karen, and when they performed it at Scion they said, “This is a song about Karen, who was raped for years by her father, found apathy with her family, has been imprisoned, stabbed, raped, beaten, is homeless, addicted to crack, and we all probably ignored her when we walked in here; she’s standing outside this place, trying to disappear. Don’t forget: everyday, women and young girls are raped by violent cowards. 1! 2! 3! 4!” So stated, the hyper-insistent music and violent dances of metal would make the atrocities of Karen’s life impossible to ignore. The audience, except the most cynical, cowardly, or evil members, would be forced to confront more than horror and misery. They would be forced to engage injustice with their minds and their bodies, shunning the physical placidity to which entertainment usually dooms unhappy thoughts. One cannot combat atrocity without using both the body and mind. Pig Destroyer is one of the few bands that has the musical power to make that interaction unbearable, and in so doing, to get beyond their audience’s ability to shut down its sensitivity. That’s a power that can change lives.

The moment I knew Karen is a marker: a moment that would seem decidedly different from any other if I didn’t have the vision to see through Weird Clouds to life on earth above. It was a beacon; it shaped the way I was at the show of the world thereafter. When Karen and I were talking, I didn't compartmentalize any of my feelings. I didn't feel crushed with pain any more than I felt lifted like a hot-air balloon. I thought that I was standing on an emotional Arch in which every feeling got it's own brick, and each was of the utmost importance. To remove one would make the whole collapse. In fact I wasn’t standing on the Arch. I was the Arch. I was the best person I’d been in six months, and as of this writing, I have not been as courageous since. I felt absolutely free. I felt a small and nearly overwhelming measure of empathy for pain beyond my reckoning, and I felt joy stirring in the candlelight; I felt radiating warmth while my body shivered from the cold. I wanted to take off into the universe by catching fire and simultaneously becoming an ocean. Karen got embarrassed when I pulled out my tape recorder. She was happy for a few seconds at a time.

Art is not separate from life. Not even life which it doesn't know or understand. Artists willing to express that level of integration and vulnerability - to take the risk of playing it all - are working for justice. Heavy music certainly has that power, and many bands seem to have the inclination. I walked and wondered if I’d meet anyone willing to answer the call. Skyscrapers loomed in shadows at the edges of my vision as I made my weary way to the hostel.

Tune in next week for The Last Scion part III: Metal Heads in the Mist

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Last Scion PART 1

On February 28, 2009, the Scion car company threw a free metal fest in Atlanta, GA. This is the story of my journey there and back.


I awoke when the ground gave way. I was about to die. The voice in the ceiling garbled something assuring and I ate deference like a prisoner eats breakfast. It was mid-afternoon and the sun set above our heads as our plane descended into the murk over Atlanta. The clouds were so dark they looked like pavement. The land looked like Hell: the way the Land of Oz would look if it were on the north Jersey shore. The air above the blackened buildings was dust orange and seemed to breath. Even the tallest building, a black spike with an orange tip, looked like a hovel in the rain. It was worse than the airport, where even the walls shout at you and the ground speaks in tongues wagging in swallowing brown throats. Buy! Spend! Purchase! Just a friendly reminder. The rain stuck to my skin and congregated in the interstitial space of my clothing. This is the kind of town that makes you suit up to forget why.

Thankfully, I had dressed myself in Los Angeles. I had come to Atlanta to find meaning in the Scion metal fest by investigating the crafts of some thirty or so underground heavy metal bands. Among these were some of metal’s most revered artists. What did their audiences hear, and how did those explanations stack up against what the bands’ claimed they were trying to say? I wanted to find artistic merit in music that I loved because I believe that art is a high and beautiful calling. More and more I have come to regard myself as immature and small in spirit for my devotion to an art form that seems to espouse anti-intellectualism, nihilism, and pain. I can invent or name a nearly endless stream of value for the bands that I love, but this is because I so badly want to continue loving it. Most of the people I meet tell me that I am allowed to love that which I find appealing just ‘cause. But I say that’s not enough, and it does a disservice to the world to appreciate art for intentions or effects it does not have. Clear and good intentions, executions, and effects are a rare luxury in art only because we allow them to be. We are the audience, the consumer, the hypnotized, the apathetic, the passionate, the moved, the yearning, the spiteful, the hated, the joyous, the exulted, the godly, the low, the discerning, the sluts, the unseeing, the microscopic eyes and ears watching and hearing the wisdom of the mouths.

I stepped off the plane and walked for fifty miles. When I was finished, I got on a plane and returned to LA.

When I debarked the plane, I went into the first in series of brown and white throats made of howling mad adults. I hoisted my chest and prepared my pack for an exquisite and uncomfortably long journey. I knew no one and was staying nowhere. My plan was to drift towards the Masquerade (where the fest was to take place the following day) and discuss metal, life, and everything with the people in between. I managed to get a hundred feet from my flying tube when I spotted a gang of obvious outsiders. They were five men with varyingly average builds and short hair. The clumped together and would occasionally look at the tallest one, who was consumed with a few sheets of paper, and then stare around the terminal with five-percent interest. One of them dressed like an Appalachian mountain guide circa 1926. One had a familiar-looking tattoo on the front of his neck. I walked past without recognizing the group as being the band Converge.

Fifteen minutes later we were walking together in the halls. Thinking they were just cross-country metal heads looking to riot their fandom, I approached them. Then the way they flocked told me that these were not just fans. I poked my head into their lives like a gopher.

“Hey uh…” I asked the tall one, lowering my voice artificially and trying to minimize their slightly hostile eye-gestures, “…are you in a band?”

“No. I manage a band. These guys,” he said, throwing his thumb to the rear.

“Oh yeah? Who are these guys,” I said, with apparent interest.


“THAT’S FUCKING CONVERGE?” I said, to everybody in the airport.

Converge is not a band of mainstream celebrities, but they are from Boston and have been dusky legends in all the underground music communities in which I’ve ever trafficked. My surprise was two fold: fold 1) a legendary band from my old stomping grounds was standing before me and shrugging off travel fatigue identical to mine; and fold 2) I didn’t recognize them at all. So I outed them to the squares milling around us. Sometimes I’m a real fucking baby.

Fold 2 should only be surprising because I’ve seen the band live once, and their performance was impressive enough that I declared it to be both fucking and awesome. I’m not a fan of the band. I own none of their records, and not because I dislike their music. They are just one of those bands that I never did, like Anthrax or Immolation. We’ve never been to the same parties or the same Dunkin Donuts’, but singer Jacob Bannon’s neck tattoo is as easy to read as a nametag to anyone who pays attention.

I smelled slightly of failure, so I took five minutes to walk ahead and shuck off my retreat into morbid delirium. One should not be stymied by one’s own retarded behavior, or one will remain retarded forever. I wanted to ask the band the questions floating around my head, so I went back to the manager, introduced myself, and asked about the weather in Boston. Boston weather is not actually exciting, but those of us from New England will sometimes pretend it is because we are impressed with the cityness of Boston. After a few minutes of small talk, I once again decided not to be such a fucking baby and asked the band if they wanted to give a short interview. The beleathered and tattooed boohoos genially agreed.

“What is good?” I asked.

“Puppies, kittens, soft things, things that taste good as opposed to bad.” It had been a long flight after all.

We had an awkward conversation, all of us settling in to something we had never practiced. I was playing the part of a reporter, except I was asking questions about the fundamentals of their band in place of the usual patter about influences or gear.

“Why do Converge?”

“Because we like making music, and playing music, and doing all those things…”

“What’s your art about?” I interrupted.

“You know: self-expression, personal expression, stories of our lives.”

It wasn’t a good answer, and because I didn’t press for anything deeper, it wasn’t much of a question either. Who let whom off the hook? Jacob answered that question with a tone of voice that suggested he was willing, to a certain extent, to contemplate the existence of his band, but that the answer to that question should have been obvious.

“Why make it sound the way it does?”

“Because,” Jacob replied, as though he were teaching a petulant ten-year-old about basic economics, “we are aggravated people.”

Am I fucked? Why would I be fucked? I’m not fucked! I am, sadly, almost never fucked.

The members of Converge grew up into the underworlds of hardcore punk and metal. Abrasive guitars and shouted vocals were accessible sounds, especially because, as bassist Nate Newton put it, they didn’t know how to play or sing. One of the greatest virtues of punk rock is that anybody can play. All you need to play punk rock music is the desire, and usually a guitar. Desire + reaction to music = band. Practice was over. We didn’t talk about anything else because we were all more interested in leaving the airport.

Jacob’s answers were unreasonably simplistic. The genesis of a popular art simply cannot be effectively reduced to “we like making music.” When he decided to devote his life to Converge, was he responding to a primal impulse to create? Did he want to live forever? Did he think he could explode the meaninglessness of his own life by proposing his ideas to the world? Was he trying to have sex with other people? Himself? His mother? Did he wish to stave off the pain of lost love? Did he wish to see in the world a reflection of God as he understood it? Maybe. He likes making music after all. Did I want to know any of that? Nope. “It’s fucking Converge!” after all. At that moment I was just a slack-jawed yokel with a microphone and a book in his pocket. I was not manifesting a profound and brilliant state of being, and Jacob knew it. The only moment of brilliance to be had was the moment where Jacob and I both ran aground on the limits of our interest in the existence of art. If either of us has a real reason to live, we will make something of that moment. This only counts as an announcement.

Then I took a train named MARTA through a muddy cascade of trees and low buildings illuminated by tiny harvest moons in fine mists. There were residents on the train, residents of the train on the train, harvest moons on the train, pale faces on the train, yellow windows on the train, portly business on the train, phantasmagoric personalities on the train, tire tracks on the train, silver plating on the train, pain on the train, my shame on the train, illusions on the train, growing sane on the train, hot wax stares on the train, weight-of-bears stares on the train, a thimble of thoughts on the train; then I got off the train. It took me a long time to get back on the train.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Now here this: this text is about the extreme metal subgenre, grindcore. For those of you who are not yet metal-heads, the creatures forming extreme metal’s die hard audience, it is necessary that you read a little about its background., and are decent resources. Additionally, use and the google to research the bands Napalm Death, Repulsion (from Flint, MI), Disrupt, Discordance Axis, Nasum, and most importantly, Pig Destroyer. I recommend you listen to at least three grindcore songs prior to reading this edition of UltraMegaSound (try these: Napalm Death plays "You Suffer (But Why?)," Repulsion plays "The Lurking Fear," Pig Destroyer plays "Naked Trees,").

To listen grindcore is to hear the sound of senseless perdition. It’s fantasy Hell. Light up and burn up on vile and thick guitar distortion, like oil slick on a gull, like lung cancer, like the crust of desert death sweats. What kind of ludicrous animal seriously desires to attend to the world in such a way? Comedians, disgruntled government computer spies, and civil engineers sick of their civility. Sure, they like some beautiful things (Springsteen, Chomsky), but who cares? They are addicted in public; they are stomping on a mess; they are mad, gibbering apes with public educations planted solidly in overlarge brains, seeing a prison wall behind everything.

You can fully engage with grindcore in two ways: you can honestly hate your shitty life, detest the systematic oppression you see everywhere, find psychosis in everybody you love or hate, and then shut up and go to work until you explode; or you can bear the brunt of your shitty life, systematic oppression, and the psychosis of those you love by being at a grindcore show with all the energy you can summon from your mortal body. To engage with grindcore is to immerse oneself in worldly irrationality until it hurts. The music is secondary. The real difference is in the resignation of the former approach to bare the weight and horror of insignificance to the death.

Henry David Thoreau said most men lead lives of quiet desperation. A desperate man resigned to live out his plight is like a guard in his own prison. He keeps his gun loaded with non-lethals. The real stuff is in a locker, and another guy, not a supervisor or a manager per se, but some kind of superior keeps a key on the ring on his belt. If things get too hairy, if too many connections are made, the lights won’t go out, memories are beginning to organize themselves, if the violence over which he watches (keeping the guard distracted from his addictions to sleep, waking, bathing, coffee, meal 1, commute, chatter, forgotten misery, face time, market share, branding, meal 2, e-mail, shitting as entertainment, breaking, breeding, meal 3 at a sensible restaurant, preventative maintenance, laughing at TV, chums, pals, cohorts, drinking and watching sports, pool, girls and boys, old songs, weekend projects, and waiting to die) has disappeared except for a few idle threats, supplies in the office are missing, or no one talks in the showers, then the locker comes open. The guard spends months lying in wait for that locker to dart wide like a clam in heat or a chest of pirate treasure. And then…finally, some action! This man, in his desperation to fight off all of his lies as they come into view, fires at will with a state-issued Remington model 1100 shotgun from the locker. But all the cages are open, the mattresses are on fire, there shivs and shanks coming out of the air, and a brick in a bed sheet swinging into his face. Had he paroled his better demons, let them march out into the world to live with the rest of us, he might have found his guardianship at a monument of human spiritual unity. But because he hesitated, he is smashed to a pulp by ethereal climbers and mercenaries alike. This is the grind of the willing oppressed.

JR Hayes doesn’t strike me as necessarily happy with petty satisfactions, but he is not interested in grand ideas either. He is an American, perhaps the most fully American man I’ve ever met, who can see that the government’s agents are just prison guards, but can’t imagine any action other than to wait out his term. So he posts no guards on the prison of his mind.

The inmates were all born there, out of the ether of JR’s experience. It seems that the architect who built JR’s prison never saw a need to leave, and so failed install a door. The guys get by all right. Someone, a while back, had the bright idea to plant some seeds they found in the kitchen; they built a trellis in the shop and shived and shanked the ground into turned-over soil. It took a year to make a garden big enough to sustain any people, and it’s still not enough to keep the many that are left. Every Wednesday there’s a lottery to see which seven guys have to give up their meat for the lives of the others. So the whole population of better demons and bitter angels is slowly dying, and will go on that way until there are no more than the garden will feed.

There are no new guys in the JR’s prison, but you can still hear screaming in the night. Most of the terror comes on Monday, because on Tuesday they all celebrate the dying. They get together and build skyscrapers with Mesa/Boogie stacks. They beat on every can, stump, and wall. They crow violence to the stars. When they get tired, they lie down and sleep where they stood.

Wednesday nights are orderly, and even a little sweet. Everyone got a number when they arrived. Every number is duplicated on a square of paper cut out of one of the books some guy found in a drawer in the office, and each paper square is laminated with Scotch tape. These scraps are floating in the water runoff barrel out behind the main office. Everyone gathers out there, away from the lights and fires they leave burning in the yard. One guy volunteers to pick seven pieces of laminate out; another guy hands him matches or a lighter. He flicks a little fire into being and calls out seven numbers as casually as he can, and everyone slowly spins their heads around, looking with a mixture of sadness and delirious relief at the guys walking forward.

Everybody, no exceptions, steps forward when his number is called. If a guy were to refuse then there would be the guards all over again. One thing the guys sure can’t stomach is the idea of having guards again. So they sing the songs every Tuesday, chose and chop up their brothers every Wednesday, and tend the garden all the rest of the week. And on Monday they hate it all so much they can’t breath until they scream the suffocation out of their body.

* * *

Pig Destroyer doesn’t really play shows. It’s too hard to stand still and gape at the mere spectacle of their performance. Shows are for statues, and concerts are for hearts plus brains plus clapping hands equals entertainment. Pig Destroyer makes collapse, combs rubble, boils blood; they play rotations: organized, consensual exchanges of position between guards and prisoners. We don’t watch. We are inmates in the pit, admins on the console and working the door, and the guards ignore their world falling apart because of the implicit promises the music makes that they will not get involved. We climb the stage like a guard tower, seize the mic like an empty gun, we dive away without considering just who is doing the catching. For others it’s like a holiday or a new coat of paint. For me it’s like cliff diving off the outer wall and discovering that it goes straight down forever.

It is not ironic that the men behind Pig Destroyer are exceedingly nice. Blake Harrison worked everything short of magic to get me backstage at the Feb. 4 LA event. JR and Brian both sat for interviews and were genial and sweaty in the same way one should be after a particularly satisfying workout. I asked a variety of silly and devastating questions to which I received a variety of devastating and silly answers. I tried to lead JR into describing artistic and political intentions that he doesn’t have, and which I only imagined because I engaged with his band in exactly the way he intended: by seeing my own interests reflected in the band’s intensity. But he insists he doesn’t make art, because it’s just grindcore.

I believe that art is in its right place philosophically when it advocates an ideal or a vision, and I find an artist believable when they make their ethos evident. JR doesn’t consider himself either an artist or an intellectual, which is news that probably only surprised me. I believe in Pig Destroyer and for the last month I’ve been trying to figure out why. Since this blog is not yet widely read, and should this sentence make it into a periodical it will most likely be removed by a judicious editor (unless he is a good enough person to feel guilty simply for the reading of it), it is safe to assume that there are few to no avowed metal heads in my audience yet. It will be hard for those who are not addicted to guitar distortion to understand just how much righteous power it holds (for a taste refer to all prior entries). For avowed metal heads, it might be disconcerting to read what must seem like a senseless intellectualization of a musical form that almost defies basic characterization. The crossroads of these two positions is where my belief stood, waiting for me to bare my soul in the night for a pittance of vision.

In phonetics, the fundamental is the lowest pitch in a harmonic series, and forms the basis for the information and action, or the timbre if you will, of any musical note. The fundamental of Rock and Roll music is rebellion. It is a simple and brutal reaction against perceived class oppression, given voice by a set of tools derived from the existing empowered-class-approved set. The “hardest” and “heaviest” subgenres of rock are those that most embody this anarchistic fundamental: hardcore punk, grindcore, noise, rap-music, etc. Bands that fall into these subgenres are, in the context of a Musicsociety constructed as a function of social class, easily classified as a kind of anti-music, with some bands (Discharge, Skitsystem, Anti-Climax) going so far as to self-classify in this way. For a group like Pig Destroyer, the very timbres they work with constitute a political action.

However, such action may be problematic because it only utilizes tools granted to the oppressed by the oppressor; JR Hayes seems to me to be a true American because he possesses both a dangerous artistic intention and a striking need to rebel, and also because these two factors seem opposed to one another. There is a little nobility and poetry in JR’s art because it is so deeply restless. During our interview, JR only discussed art in abstracted, idealistic terms. Given that, it makes sense then that he doesn’t consider the music of Pig Destroyer to be art. The predominant effect is to translate profound restlessness into movement. This is politically and philosophically valuable because one cannot disengage with one’s environment while listening to grindcore. If you turn on the radio today, ninety-nine percent of the music you listen to will ask you to turn off everything else. It is quite impossible to tune out or relax while listening to Pig Destroyer. In fact, it is practically impossible not to seriously listen to Pig Destroyer if it is in any way audible.

Art created for pleasure out of dishonorable intentions creates the hidden nihilism at the heart of American philosophical and political apathy. Pig Destroyer’s anti-art is noble because it cares so hard despite its assumption that escape from one’s nightmare is impossible. Perhaps it is the use of oppressor-granted tools that creates this perception. How can one create a vision of being beyond oppression when the one’s essence is deeply rooted in it? When all you have to work with are oppressor-tools, then all visions look like reflections of oppressor-desires. Pig Destroyer’s poetry is that they craft the greatest, and therefore most anarchistic, extremity of rock and roll’s fundamental rebellion. And if you think their music sounds hopeless now, consider this: if what I say is true, and if rock ever succeeds in destroying its oppressors, then its necessity would no longer exist, and rock and roll itself would truly die.