IMPROVIJAZZATION Nation - Issue # 80
INTERVIEW with Noah Campbell
I've played in over 65 "bands" . We will highlight a few of these bands in this (and future) issues.
CLICK the PLAY button to listen while you read - or don't, totally up to you! You can also PURCHASE these tracks, if you'd like to support our efforts; no obligation to do that, but the option is there if you'd like!
Here's another feature Zzaj Band - 2 of 'em in fact, so you can listen while you read the interview. First is "The Old Neighborhood", with Eric Wallack on guitars, Ernesto Diaz-Infante on guitars and found street sounds, & me on my trusty old Kurzweill. Both albums, as you'll hear were in the "experimental zone" to the max:
First introduced to Noah's music from a self-submitted CD (also reviewed in this issue). He had some amazing sonic resemblances to F.Z., which (as many of you know) is the artist I've most been influenced by, at least stylistically. Ergo, Noah was a "natural fit" for an INTERVIEW. His music is very, very interesting, unless your mind is geared towards "total normalcy"... in which case, you probably wouldn't be reading this 'zine anyway, right? We want to thank him for taking the time to provide us some insightful answers to our questions!
Zzaj: We need some level of history from you – in order that our readers be able to relate to the oddities that have made you what you are (or aren’t, for that matter) – we already know your name, so place of birth, matriculations since that pop-out, as well as any other detail tidbits that will help us understand wherefore art thou.
NC: Well first comes the name, the tale as I am familiar with it, if you really want to go straight back to May 29, 1981, the date of my motherly snap crackle popping, is that we had undergone two full weeks of non stop rain up north in the little logging town of Kapuskasing Ontario. When I was birthed the sun came out, so I acquired the name Noah, then it went back to raining the next day. And every year since then on May 29th wherever I have been has been a gorgeous sunny day, but hey, is that really strange for late May? NO WAY! I have yet to figure out how I can save the world from great bog’s wrath and live up to my name’s sake, but I’m also not decided on whether the Earth is worthy! From there, my moms being the clever lady she be, (and having had my brother before me contract whooping cough from the whooping cough vaccine and endured a year of him being deathly ill following that) chose to leave me fully unvaccinated, and thus my thinking faculties and freedom to roam musical thought are unabated by mercury accumulations in the cerebral cortex, God bless her!
Zzaj: I noticed some remarkable similarities (compositionally, anyway) to Zappa style; did you go to sleep listening to “Joe’s Garage” or “Hot Rats” in order to absorb his patterns?
NC: No, Frank is far too entertaining to be able to fall asleep to. It was a sunny march day in North Bay, at the age of 17, visiting a good friend, smoking a large doobie when he sat me down for a solid and focused listening of Joe’s Garage after reading me the foreword. Every single aspect of what I heard hit my bones hard. The bastard. He beat me to it. Everything I ever wanted to do, the way I played drums, the humour, the paranoia of complete government interventions in every aspect of our daily lives, right down to the music we agitate the air molecules around us with. He did it. Decades before I was born. It all clicked, why friend’s parents, and parent’s friends were always saying to me, “Noah, you gotta get into Zappa” the bastard. Or maybe I’m the bastard, I still haven’t been able to wrangle the truth out of my mother, that she was a groupie on tour with Frank in late 1980, she even claims to hate his music. But I was informed by my aunt that on her first summer back from college mommsy hung a poster of Zappa on the toilet up on her bedroom door. She claims it was just to freak out my grandma. But I think we all know she’s far too cool to be phased by a little potty humour. So no, I never attempted to absorb his patterns, I am his pattern. I still love the father who raised me as his own though. What a swell guy!
Zzaj: Another favourite question amongst the krew that hangs here is – what kind of equipage do you use to mangle the listeners’ ears? 4-track, purely digital, or just sticks & cans?
NC: I have a Yamaha aw-16G which is what I use to capture my air art. Some of it gets a little computer treatment afterwards, but I do almost everything on my little standalone unit. It’s pretty good, but in retrospect a 20 gig drive is peanuts for my purposes! It looks like I might be getting a little help in retrofitting this sucker with a 40 gigger. Then Yammy can start to approach my needs. Although I suppose if it was able to hold TheiT and some extra stuff on the side, it’s not doing too badly.
Zzaj: You seem to have far too many friends on MYSPACE… are you really a deported (or departed) guvv-i-mint agent (in hippie guise) residing in Canada set to inflame Canadians with zeal for “odd-istry”? You know, in other phrases – what IS yer’ mission in life/death/the great in-betwixt?
NC: Just killing time. And don’t call me a hippy! Holy fuck! Don’t let the hair fool you! Would a hippy attempt to assassinate the space time continuum with such irregular rhythms? I thought not!
Zzaj: What (exactly) got you interested/started in music? Is it a religious commitment, or are you really 666666666?
NC: You pretty much nailed it actually. Music is my religion. I’ve assessed things from what I consider to be a logical standpoint, and nothing else entwines the body mind and soul all wrapped up in one single heap of precise motion, math, craftsmanship, intellectual connections, and religious fervor, all to incite emotions in other humans the way music does. I agitate air molecules all day long, enacting my tyranny of the auditory spectrum. Fertile females beware, come to close to me and you will be inadvertently inseminated through aural sex.
On what got me started, I think I’ve always been more interested in music than anything else. When I re-examine the films that I loved as a young child, it strikes me the emotions and interests they enticed were all held in the soundtrack. It wasn’t until I was about 11 that I first heard Led Zeppelin, and a parental friend showed me how pots and pans could be converted into a Bonhamesque cacophony of rhythm. A few tin holes and bent bottoms later a second hand black pearl kit from the seventies was acquired, and I haven’t stopped pissing off neighbours since then.
Zzaj: I notice (in your blogz) that you have a son… when he’s 64, will he “respect” your music, or turn the volume down REAL LOW?
NC: Hahaha. Actually he’s already my biggest fan. He’s almost three, and he asks for “daddy music” all the time. Then he sits there and demands to have the cover so he can examine it inside and out while he listens. When the thunder shows up, he gleefully hides under a blanket. When the Scary comes on, he flips to the inside cover to examine the monster there. I think he understands what I’m getting at better than anyone else. My friends scoff when I claim it’s genetics, but hey, this is third generation Zappa here. (I mean, I’m PRETTY sure!)
Zzaj: What’s the story behind that track “Breaching The Birthing Canal”, man? I mean, was it a “COBE” (Coming Out Of Body Experience), or what? Just kidding, of course, what we really want to know is how many (hundreds of) “pings” you had to do to get the fantastic results you did! Did it require any chemical additives? (NOT that we advocate such… ed)
NC: Well here is the sad sordid history of this song. The riff itself first came about as the main theme to an epic track called “The Celebration of the Underdog” which is an ode in general to my friends near religious observance of full moons as an opportunity to wander out into the vast northern wilderness and lycanthropes howling in wild abandon at the moon. In particular the song documents one particularly eventful night of improvised song making and Korean less than legal fireworks deep in the bush in early January with a bottle of gin. Don’t worry, I’ll record this mammoth someday! Next, the riff came back in a strong way one summer tree planting, boring through my brain with the incessant never ending lyrics “every six feet you stuff a tree in the ground, every six feet there’s no need to fuck around.” So as part of the forthcoming album made up entirely of songs pertaining to the grueling job of planting trees entitled “Not Another Summer Of Hell” (don’t worry, it’s coming too, someday!) I recorded on May seventh the drums and two bass tracks for use in the tree planting version of this riff, which I knew to be the first day of planting in Kapuskasing that season, my first year I did not return to slay my back, knees, and wrist in the swamp. Well coincidentally, on the other side of Canada, unbeknownst to me that day, my son was born. Finding that out, and re-listening to the track, hearing the intensity of it, knowing it was recorded during some rather intense moments for my son and his mother, this recording took on a third purpose. Much later on I recorded on a friends guitar the solo, portraying the birthing process imagined from my son’s perspective. No pings. Both bass tracks, the drums and guitar all first takes. 99% of everything I record is take one. I’m far too fickle to record multi takes for everything, then I would just hmmm and haw for years trying to get the perfect take and contemplating the perfection of every note. Hence you have the CD Economy of Means now entering its fifth year of recording. Once again, I swear you’ll hear it finished some day!
And as for chemical indulgences? I had likely smoked some herbs. Since then the weed has lost its effect on my mind, it strangely just leaves me uncomfortable and perturbed now, it seems I’ve burned up my THC receptors that used to fire off the rest of my brain in excited connections and revelations of joy. From here on in, it appears it’s just brandy and black bodum coffee for me! Who woulda thunk it!
Zzaj: You’ve mentioned to me that you’re in the process of ensuring you are totally “webbed”, so you can get your “message” (or at least your music) out to folks. Tell us (all) what power (if any) you see in using the web to convey a musical vision. Is it (just) the music that gets your vision across, or is it (also) necessary to accompany it with words?
NC: The web is powerful. Do you think real world radio would touch my music? Do you think real world magazines would touch my music? The Internet is the last vestige of a free market left in existence. When you go there and snoop around, you’ll find the public’s interests by volume do not represent what the lamestream presents as popular. I find it repulsive to plug into the matrix. So I use the Internet. Words are not required for music, of course not, but it’s a nice safety net for some people, it helps them get the picture. So for anyone out there reading this, always think of orgasms when listening to FOWL music.
Zzaj: If you have the chance to play with ONE artist/group – who would that be?
NC: While Zappa is the epitome of all that is good in music, if I’m honest with myself, and realistic, I would have to pick the Rheostatics. A fantastic and historic Canadian group who never quite made it out of the bar scene. Their music is moving beyond words, and their performances loose in the best possible way. Diverse, deep, I’ve shed many a tear in a dingy bar hearing them play. They are now defunct as of last year, with a historic selling out of Massey Hall for their final show. Now I am left with the promise that a few of the members and auxiliary musicians will be mounting a new project, and I desperately would wish to be their drummer, only I shy away at sending in a cd and groveling. What do I have to lose eh? Silly me!
Zzaj: I believe that music has the power to heal folks, & pull them away from the frenzy of war the politicians have whupped them into. What is your “advice” to those wanting to pursue music… as a hobby, or as a job?
NC: LOL. Music as a career? LOL. But seriously, buy my CD, I’m trying! And it takes a fair amount to be sold before I can justify printing up the next album. What a sick cycle! Why try to enter into it? My advice? Don’t go into debt. Don’t get an education. Just go for it. The second you get sucked into the debt cycle, music as a career goes bye-bye, or at least that’s my take. Music is the greatest thing humans do, just do it. Making a living at it has every card in the deck stacked against it. The beauracracy!!! The piracy!!! the assoholicism of the lame public!!! Do what you have to do, if you have the illness I do, there’s really no hope or choice anyways, balls to the wall and hope for the best. Bog bless me, and hopefully, I can get a paternity test done soon and get at my ZFT inheritance.
CALL for SUBMISSIONS!!!
ALL artists! I am very, VERY happy to announce that IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION is ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS again. I have been granted a (possibly long-term) stay of execution for my trip to Iraq. I will still be traveling all over the U.S., so new issues may be a little less timely, but (as always), we will review your materials as soon as possible after we receive them. Look at the guidelines for submission below, please:
MUSIC: All formats accepted. Snail mail to: Zzaj Productions, c/o Dick Metcalf, 95-1107 Hookupu Street, Mililani, HI 98789. The only criteria for music you submit is that it MUST HAVE high performance energy... if you submit lackluster material, it will be reviewed accordingly
POETRY: Poems are accepted for publication ONLY via e-mail (to email@example.com ). Poems submitted in any other fashion will NOT be published. Poetry that includes some reference to music is granted first priority for publication.
BOOKS: We will review some books; books about music are PREFERRED. We will NOT return any books submitted for review. Snail them to the address listed above for MUSIC.
DIY Announcements: We will post your (e-mailed) ad about DIY projects, regardless of genre or medium... HOWEVER, this is ONLY for INDEPENDENTS... if you are a corporation, don't even BOTHER sending stuff... it will be marked and reported as SPAM!
RETURN to Zzaj Productions MAIN page!