Third Man Records, CASS Records and The Dirtbombs’ Ben Blackwell: “When you see a live show that you really connect with it blows your mind and changes the way you feel, there’s no substitute for that”

Handmade collage by B.

Recently Gimmie caught up with co-founder and co-owner of Third Man Records, founder of CASS Records and The Dirtbombs’ drummer Ben Blackwell to chat about new TMR release The Stooges’ Live At Goose Lake, August 8th, 1970. The record is a high-quality soundboard recording of the original Stooges line-up’s final performance; the 1/4” stereo two-track tape sat unheard in the basement of a Michigan farmhouse for decades until now. We also chat about The Dirtbombs, of things Ben’s learnt from his uncle Jack White, upcoming TMR releases and more.

What do The Stooges mean to you?

BEN BLACKWELL: The Stooges symbolize – whether they knew it or not at the time – the shift of standard “classic rock” to something more confrontational, a little more challenging and clearing the way for punk rock, which in turn cleared the way for do-it-yourself, self-starter ideas… in that, The Stooges were simplified and the people that were looking to The Stooges were like, “Shit, we can do that, that’s three chords!” I think it’s a shift in influence on a larger portion of the public, knowing full well The Stooges were not hugely popular, but popular just enough they influenced people like Ramones and the Sex Pistols, the Germs, all of that stuff. The through line from The Stooges to Nirvana to The White Stripes in my mind is super clear and super transparent; if not for that, we would not have this.

It’s funny how a lot of bands like The Stooges or even Black Flag or Ramones for example weren’t so popular when they were first around but have gone on to be more so and have a cult-like status now.

BB: Yeah, that’s the only benefit of being ahead of your time [laughs], it somewhat seems to pause it, that you will have a somewhat longer shelf-life.

How did you first come to The Stooges’ music?

BB: It would have been around May of 1996. Jack [White] had played me something off the first album maybe “1969” or “I Wanna Be Your Dog” which are probably the easiest ways of entry to that band, they’re pretty digestible in the grand scheme of things. You don’t play someone “Fun House” the song to start out. “I Wanna Be Your Dog” is pretty undeniably great across the board.

Can you remember what you felt when you first heard it?

BB: I had a general liking of it. I don’t think I had heard Sonic Youth doing it yet. In hindsight, I feel like I remember more listening to Fun House which was: it’s not as good as the first Stooges album. You have to absorb the self-titled album before Fun House really makes sense, at least at age… I’m presupposing lots of deep mental notes and calculations in a sixteen-year-old brain!

When you first listened to The Stooges Live At Goose Lake recording; what was the initial thing you noticed about it?

BB: There’s three to four immediate observations kind of happening in real time on top of each other. The first one is, Dave Alexander is playing bass; which I had been told or read or had heard for the previous two decades at least that, that was not the case at the show.

Secondly is, the recording quality is respectable. Having been a Stooges fan for many years I have paid accumulative of hundreds of dollars on really, really bad sounding Stooges recordings, and not really had too much to gripe about because you’re just happy to get anything with this band. On top of hearing Dave play, just the quality, to my ears, in my opinion is the best sounding Stooges recording from that era and line-up.

There’s some conversation to be have about a live recording called Georgia Peaches that’s the Raw Power era of the band, which is a good recording but I don’t like that version of the band as much—I’m more of a Fun House guy.

The third thing while listening to it is, the bemusement of, holy shit, this exists! It took me months to realise that. Only once the release was imminent did I think back and realise; oh wow! I was the first person to be able to fully refute that theory that Dave didn’t play bass that night. Anyone I’m talking to afterwards, if I share them the recording before it’s come out or doing a press release or sharing with you, it’s shared with the story that Dave did play bass! The question is answered for you. I sat there and was like; wow! That’s kind of all the weight of Stooges fans in the world sitting right there–holy shit, it’s there! Amazing!

What’s one of the most interesting things about the recording for you?

BB: The performance speaks for itself. The most interesting thing for me about the recording, having jumped so deep into all aspects of it, is the only real question we don’t have an answer to; why it was recorded? The engineer James [Jim] Cassily was a local audio engineer in Detroit, he wasn’t hired by the festival, wasn’t doing sound for the bands so… why was he recording this? It’s not too much to imagine that he had connections that could patch him right into the board. He didn’t record everything, he recorded little bits here and there. Of all of the people involved, Iggy Pop is pretty much the only person that’s still alive, in the immediate of it. Richard Songer the promoter is still alive but in terms of the band, Iggy Pop is the only one still alive. I wonder how it came to be! Why did it just sit there? Why was it recorded? What was the purpose for it?

I’ve seen people on message boards say that they heard this show happen in August of 1970 and people saying in September and October that they had recorded the show and that they were going to bootleg it on LP. This guy that talked about it said he lived in St. Louis or something at the time. He was like, he kept hearing it was going to come out in ’71, then a couple of months later they died and blah blah blah blah. It’s like, does that have any connection to this? It doesn’t make sense though because James Cassily didn’t pass away until 2005.

I was talking to a buddy of mine from Detroit that had sent me a congratulatory email saying he couldn’t believe I put it out. He said he remembers talking to Ron Asheton about this show. He said it was in ’78 or ’79 and my friend said to Ron that he thought the show had been recorded. Ron’s response to him was, “Yeah, but where the fuck are the tapes?” That whole chain of possession or the purpose behind it all, that’s what at this point would truly open my eyes wider.

Maybe the guy that recorded it just liked The Stooges and wanted a copy for himself.

BB: It could very well be. He recorded maybe ten other bands at Goose Lake. To me that almost signifies something larger, had he just recorded The Stooges it could be it was a more targeted, direct effort. When you’re recording a larger swath of bands it probably means you’re not recording it just for your own enjoyment. Who knows?

I know you’ve spent a lot of time listening to the studio version on Fun House, I read that the show at Goose Lake was the first time people got to hear that album’s songs in full before the its release, is that right?

BB: Probably not. There’s a rough recording of The Stooges in Chicago from a month prior in July 1970 and they play pretty much the album. The Stooges had a routine of anytime they had new music they basically stopped playing old music. By the time they had recorded Fun House they seemed to have ceased playing the first record. They recorded Fun House in May of 1970 and by June and July, we only have evidence of them playing songs off of Fun House, which didn’t come out until August. They may have not played any local Detroit shows in that intervening time in June or July, so it might have been the first time it was “unveiled” in Detroit. They played the Grand Circus Theatre in April of 1970 I believe, they were maybe playing “Loose” around then, if not more of the Fun House stuff. I’m still waiting for someone to find those tapes and bring them into Third Man.

Does hearing the live record change the way you hear the studio version of Fun House?

BB: Yeah, I think the live record makes the studio record seem polished. Fun House the studio recording is something that I never thought I’d say is polished anywhere. Steven Mackay’s saxophone comes out as really savage, I think it’s the unheralded star of this recording, and he only plays on two songs. Myself being a drummer, I think of all of the times I started playing in a band where I was severely under-qualified to play in. I played in this band when I was seventeen called The Dirtbombs.

I know, I love The Dirtbombs!

BB: We’re an OK band [laughs]. Listening to this live record reminded me of how I used to play drums in the studio, we would play songs we hadn’t rehearsed or toured out live, it was, here’s a new song we’re gonna do it… at that point my mind was like, I just don’t want to fuck this up! I don’t want to be the one to blow a take. You’ve got four other guys there with you.

I’m not saying that’s what Scott Asheton the drummer’s perspective would have been playing drums on Fun House – granted we have every take of every song on Fun House to go against—he really seems to hold his own. But, from the recording to the live performance, what I really hear in the live performance is that Scott has really found his place in the band. He’s way more freewheeling in where he lays out fills and really, really inhabit the entirety of the song. I would say the drumming on Fun House seems a lot more laid back comparatively from the live recordings of Fun House where Scott is just a maniac. I feel like it’s the best drumming ever captured of his.

Who or what inspired you to play drums?

BB: I remember saying in passing that I wanted to play guitar when I was twelve or thirteen and my uncle Jack said, “You don’t want to play guitar, there’s five guitar players on your block already. You should play drums!” I was like, ahhh OK! He walked me through it and showed me the basics. I goofed around on drums maybe seven years earlier when I was six or seven, I never had a kit or anything; there were drums at grandma’s house. Jack styled me with some drums, “Here’s some stuff you can have, here’s some stuff you can borrow. Go figure it out!” Immediately me and my best friend started jamming in the basement, largely inspired by our love of Nirvana at the time.

It seems like Jack has been a really inspiring person in your life; what’s one of the best things you’ve learnt for him?

BB: Oh, shit! [pauses and thinks]. It’s been a fortunate perspective just to witness his career from the perspective that I’ve had, let alone participate in it. What I would say that I’ve learnt form him is, it’s OK to say, no! It might sound funny but as you get further on and do more things, people ask more of you. Saying no is the hardest thing to do in human existence; you want to say yes and you want to please other people, you want to be liked and all that stuff. Sometimes you just say no though for your own sanity. It’s hard for people to say that. It’s nice to be empowered to say, no.

Is there anything happening on The Dirtbombs front?

BB: No, not really. Patrick the other drummer lives in Melbourne actually, he did a move from Brooklyn. I’m here in Nashville. Mick is in New York. Ko and Troy are in Detroit. We only get together on rare occasions. It’s been a little over a year ago, we played a show here in Nashville in April 2019, it was a nice little family reunion; it was the Third Man 10-Year Anniversary. A great reason to bring everyone down here. Now we need another reason to meet up somewhere. Before that we all met up in Belgium and before that Detroit; we get a weird fly-out every once in a while, someone will offer us an obscene amount of money that we can’t in good conscience say no to. That’s all we’re waiting on!

The last Dirtbombs release was a split 7” on your own label, CASS?

BB: [Laughs] Kind of. We played a New Year’s Eve show in Detroit with the Soledad Brothers, the drummer of the Soledad Brother’s is Ben Swank, who’s the co-founder and co-owner here at Third man along with myself and Jack. I had pressed a 7” single by them not too long before this show and I had a different Dirtbombs single I had pressed prior… I paired those two together and pressed 100 copies to have something to sell at the show. I rubber stamped them and put them on a random colour vinyl and numbered them. They weren’t new recordings, I guess a commemorative recording release would be the right term [laughs].

Is there any releases coming up on CASS that you’re really excited about?

BB: There’s stuff coming up that I’m excited about but it’s too early to talk about it [laughs].

Awww. Then is there anything on Third Man coming up you’re excited about?

BB: I’m excited about everything we do on Third Man! [laughs]. We’ve got a live recording by Johnny Cash that should be out in a month or so, that went to our fan club subscribers, The Vault. Then we have a live Hives record. We have some Screamin’ Jay Hawkins re-issues. Always working on finding those overlooked gems in our world or other people’s catalogues. Constantly doing archival White Stripes releases, studio recordings or live shows… we’ve being doing a live show a month essentially through this platform called Nugs, which is streaming and CD’s on demand printed, cool downloads like that for hardcore fans; that’s where we put the live recordings that have piled up over the years.

You sound like you have the best job. I know how I feel when someone sends me through something that’s not released yet and it’s so exciting to hear…

BB: [Laughs] Yeah. It comes with responsibility, there’s about ten things I could tell you that are coming out on Third Man that we haven’t announced yet. I have to sit on these things and put them under my hat and not tell you about them! It’s a bittersweet thing. It’s a singular enjoyment that you can’t share with many people. My wife and Ben Swank are the ones that I talk to about these things [laughs].

Where does your hard work ethic come from?

BB: It’s probably a lot from Jack, on top of learning to say, no. Being around him makes you want to do stuff. You always feel like you’re not doing enough [laughs]. Here in the States they talk about the Midwestern work ethic, which I didn’t really know about prior to leaving the Midwest. People work hard everywhere don’t they? In the Midwest it’s like everyone has a job and does that but, then everyone you know and that are in bands and at the bar, they also do their other thing; they run a label or paint or do acting. It seems like you do the thing to pay the bills and then part of the bills is your creative endeavour. That’s just what I was exposed to.

The minute I saw Dave Buick running a record label [Italy Records]] out of the front room of his house in 1998, that blew my mind open! I realise you didn’t have to have an office, you didn’t have to have employees… the idea of doing-it-yourself on whatever scale you can. I remember someone once saying on a message board, that you can’t make money if you only press 200 copies of a single, the best you can do is break even. I remember thinking that that was such a defeatist attitude! You absolutely can make money from that, you just don’t need to be locked into some predetermined “you can’t charge more than $5 for a single” mindset. Make it cool, make it badass, and charge $7 for it. Doing it yourself and not wanting to entrust… I’m OK if I fuck something up but if someone else fucks it up I get pissed! That’s a great motivator for doing a lot of things myself.

You don’t go into music or writing or making fanzines expecting to make money, if you do you’re in the wrong business, go be a banker or trade stocks.

Why is music important to you?

BB: Music via records is a way to tell stories and hear stories, it’s kind of the same thing. What I get out of it, I like the historical aspect of it; I like finding an old record and putting the needle on and trying to figure out both literally and metaphorically where it came from and what inspired people to make music like this? Whether it’s really bad [laughs] or really good or terribly unique or terribly rehashed… to extrapolate further, the live experience of music it dwindles as I’ve gotten older and priorities change and you’ve got more responsibilities. When you see a live show that you really connect with – for me that was once a month – it blows your mind and changes the way you feel, there’s no substitute for that.

Please check out THE STOOGES Live at Goose Lake: August 8th 1970. THIRD MAN RECORDS. CASS Records. Ben’s writing/thoughts: TREMBLE UNDER THE BOOM LIGHTS.

Detroit Electro-Punk Duo ADULT.: “One of the most satisfying things about releasing work is helping create a community of likeminded individuals…”

Handmade collage by B.

ADULT. have been in existence for over two decades! Their darkwave, electronic, synthpunk is always interesting, always pushing boundaries and always reinventing itself. Towards the beginnings of isolation we caught up with ADULT.’s Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus from their home in Michigan to find out more about their eight studio album – Perception is/as/of Deception. Recorded in their basement, which they painted all black in an effort to deprive their senses and see what would come creatively, the result is a self-aware, tongue-in-cheek, thrilling record!

How have you both been doing? I remember reading an interview with you from way back and you mentioned that you liked working isolation.

ADAM LEE MILLER: [Laughs] We do. We also enjoy knowing that there is going to be a very public part of our lives after the isolation.

NICOLA KUPERUS: We’re beginning to wonder; when is that public time for musicians?

I know it’s an interesting time. We’ve been hearing here in Australia that we might not see live music until 2021!

NK: Same!

ALM: Our European booking agent just nuked our tour that was supposed to be at the end of August.

On the brighter side, you’ve released this incredible new album – Perception is/as/of Deception – on Dais Records! It’s one of my favourites that you’ve made so far.

NK: Thank you! It really feels like someone pulled the rug out from under us with the cancelation of our tour.

You had the launch for the album online?

NK: Yeah.

ALM: Yeah, you know how it works, the record cycle for things is so far ahead, the way it’s planned. If the record label has to push ours back then they have to push everyone else’s back and no one knows when to push it back to, that’s the problem. If we knew it was going to last for four months then we could reschedule according to that. Our North American tour that was supposed to start next Thursday, we’ve rescheduled it three times! Now we’re trying to start October 5th in Boston, but we don’t even know if that will happen. Our Governor today sent out another emergency alert extending the quarantine. We have a very severe lockdown in Detroit, we’re not allowed to visit anyone. We were just watching some of our neighbours taking a walk in the rain a couple of nights ago.

NK: Everyone’s losing their fucking minds!

ALM: They didn’t take an umbrella and it was 36 degrees out [laughs].

Why do you love to create?

NK: I don’t know? I don’t know what else we would do! [laughs]. My entire life I’ve just been interested in making stuff. It doesn’t mean just music, it means creating your own world. No one has ever asked that before… it’s just something that’s innately in you.

ALM: When we started hanging out, that was one of the main things that we had in common, we both liked to make things. It’s not like we were going to a movie and make out point! [laughs]. It was let’s stay in and work on a photograph or something. When we started making music together—the rest is history!

What do you get from creating stuff?

NK: It’s just a satisfaction.

ALM: It’s a compulsion. It’s not always fun!

NK: [Laughs].

As an artist what are the things you value?

ALM: The work that we like the most is the work that has its own vocabulary; the work that you know is always that person’s work. I get satisfaction when we’re making work like that. One of the most satisfying things about releasing work is helping create a community of likeminded individuals that feel like they can have a space place outside of society that we can all feel together in. I’m satisfied when the work is very against what we feel is wrong.

NK: It’s interesting because I think in 2008, we were basically fed up with the music industry and the way things were shifting. We were really burnt out! So we said, fuck it! We didn’t make a public announcement and we also didn’t say to ourselves that it would be forever; we said, we don’t want to do it anymore, the way that we’d been doing it. We actually made a short film and did construction work. We did construction work for money for three years. It’s 12 to 14 hour days of hard labour!

ALM: The work we was making wasn’t satisfying us.

NK: What that did was allow us to recharge and revaluate. It makes you realise that for us making visual work and making music it’s something that’s unavoidable, we can’t stop doing it for whatever reason.

I understand that. No matter what job I do and no matter what I try, I always end up coming back to doing interviews and making zines. I guess something inside you just tells you that it’s your passion, so do it! Like you were saying just before, you feel compelled to do it.

I really love the title of your new album Perception is/as/of Deception. Looking at it made me think; how do I say it? It has options.

ALM: Those lyrics are in the song ‘Total Total Damage’. I don’t see the words before Nicola starts singing them, she was rehearsing and I asked her if I could see those lyrics and we both got talking about how interesting it was… when it’s written as more say a poem on paper, you start seeing if/as/of all together. We thought it would be a great t-shirt if it said: is/as/of. That was before we had an album title. We drew it and put it on the wall and just kept looking at it thinking it was a cool image, somehow that then became the title. It came from designing merch, we weren’t trying to design merch thoug; it was just inspired from one medium to the other. I don’t know a lot of bands that have titles that can be read in different ways.

NK: Choose your own adventure! [laughs].

I love that it made me stop and think. I love words and new ways of looking at them. I’ve worked in libraries for the last twenty years so I read a lot; I’m a total word nerd. It’s really cool what you’ve done with the title.

NK: That’s great! It’s interesting too because it’s the first time in our history of albums that we have not actually put the text on the proper album jacket, so it’s just an image for the album art. I like that too because is/as/of; what does this mean? There is no title in the traditional sense of how titles normally are on the front cover.

I think that makes you more curious to want to know what it is, all you have to go on is the image. It makes you want to open up the sleeve and check out the record or go online to learn more about it, it becomes a different level of interactive experience.

When you recorded the LP I understand that you made it in your basement, painting the whole room black to use sensory deprivation to see where that would lead; where did you get this idea from?

NK: I’m not really certain where the moment was that the idea came to me. I was reading Aldous Huxley The Doors Of Perception and I was thinking of how interesting it is that he was taking LSD to intensify his visual writing experience. I was thinking sonically; what could you do to intensify your experience? What would make you use your ears more? I was thinking about spaces that were just visually void, that’s what led me to do this to our basement; what would it be like to be in this space that is visually void? What would it do to the sound? What would it do to how we’re feeling?

ALM: The basement was, we’re talking walls black, floors black, no windows, lights on dimmers, it was extremely dark. The record we wrote before called This Behavior we also worked in isolation up in a cabin in northern Michigan, in February when the temperature was -14 and there was two-feet of snow in the Great Lake. There were big plates of ice from the lake shifting on top of each other. We were in a beautiful knotty wood cabin with glass windows overlooking on this small cliff, it was cold, outside was beautiful, but you couldn’t go out there; you were isolated with a view. It had the complete opposite effect. This is just when we do the demo process… it was done in the summer for this album, you had this beautiful outside that was warm enough to go out but this time you couldn’t even see it.

Did anything surprise you about the experience of recording in these conditions?

NK: It was really hard. It was really exciting at first but then it just became like… wow! To go into that environment day after day after day for however many months… it’s funny because it’s a problem that you put on yourself, you created the circumstance, you don’t have to stay in it. That’s kind of the way we are though, we’re gonna do it and labour through it.

ALM: We’re changing the formula so we don’t repeat ourselves. It’s so easy for some bands after 20 years where you’re just like… oh, that’s the new Ministry single, it came out today and I heard it and really liked it and I was trying to tell Nicola why. I guess it’s ‘cause I liked it because it sounded like how they sounded ten years ago, that’s not a reason to like it. Anyways, we’re always just trying not to repeat ourselves so if we don’t follow our own rules then we’re not…

NK: We’re not pushing ourselves.

What mood were you in when making the album?

ALM: Well, super happy! [laughs]. Just kidding! It did start to really wear on you to go down there… we’d come up for lunch and be like, oh man, it’s so nice up here! I don’t want to have to go back down into the black hole! Once you were there, time was not an issue. We didn’t bring our phones down. There was just no sense of time, that was something that was amazing. You can get into routines. You’d come up from downstairs and suddenly it would be night-time or there’d be a thunderstorm. A song like ‘Total Total Damage’ was one of the last songs we wrote. I think that’s interesting how you can take a song like ‘Untroubled Mind’ which is one of the early songs along with ‘Second Nature’ and they have a lighter feel, as the record proceeds you get more into…

NK: Tension. Frustration.

I got that when I was listening to it. As the album unfolds I feel we’re along with you for the journey and we get a real insight into where you were at/what you were going through when making it. At the start you have ‘We Look Between Each Other’ like things are exciting at the start and then you get to the middle portion of the album there’s more frustration and by the time you get to the end you have ‘Untroubled Mind’… the synth parts in that one really soar!

ALM: [Laughs]. Thank you.

It’s like you’re ending on a happy note. The LP feels really introspective to me.

NK: When we put an album together we always try to work really hard on there being a journey you’re taking through the album. I do feel like it’s something we’ve done three times, where the end song… I don’t want to say that ‘Untroubled Mind’ is a meditation but, I think it has a relief from the rest of the album. I feel like it’s the song that’s most different from the other songs on the record, it almost has a coda, or a final thought that it’s saying. We did that on Why Bother?, the last song ‘Harvest’ it sounds like bees in a lawnmower almost; it has a strange meditation to me. On Detroit House Guests the last song [‘As You Dream’] on that with Michael Gira, feels like it’s a total “Namaste” wrap up song.

ALM: Just a little trivia on that song, we have this rule that you have to write the whole song in two to three days and if you haven’t got it by then you have to leave it. We could not get that song to go anywhere because it’s a really strange sequence line for us. It was the third day and it was getting late and I said, we just have to document what we have and move on! Nicola was like, ‘yeah, you’re right’. Then she just got on the delay pedal and went on over to the PRO-1 and wrote it. I was like, holy shit! You just finished the demo at the eleventh hour!

It’s my favourite track on the album. I love how it leaves things on a positive note and there’s a real freeness about it. It makes me curious as to where you’ll go next.

NK: I love that! That’s really nice,

ALM: Thank you.

Your record has been making me really happy while in isolation.

NK: The most amazing thing about music compared to visual art is that it is something that everyone can have, it’s out there. A painting is a painting on a wall, you can’t really…

ALM: Experience that on the internet.

I wanted to talk about your film clip for song ‘Why Always Why’. At the start of the clip there’s a quote from GJ Ballard’s book Millennium People: At times you feel like you’re living someone else’s life, in a strange house you’ve rented by accident. Why did you chose this quote?

ALM: We went through four billion quotes! [laughs]. We wanted to make sure that we don’t lead the audience that they feel what they want to feel and look into the work but we also felt the work could have a reading that was a critique of individual humans and their individual behaviours. It was more about us not feeling a part of this world. It was a way to gently say…

NK: That this is a foreshadowing of what you’re going to watch.

I love how in the film clip you’re at the mall and at Home Depot. I’s really fun!

NK & ALM: [Laughter].

ALM: It was so funny, we shot it in Florida. We shot it all on an iPhone. It was funny watching people, everyone was in shorts and flip flops, and we come in with full leather! People are like ‘what the fuck are these people doing!’ [laughs].

NK: It was entertaining.

It was funny too because the way your music is and how you dress etc. is a real juxtapose from the environment you were in. It gives that feeling of being out of place and out of step with the rest of the world.

NK: Certainly.

I especially love the bit where Adam, you’re standing in the foreground just looking at the camera and then there’s kids in the background on trampolines!

ALM & NK: [Laughter].

ALM: We actually went back the next day to get that shot. It felt funny because… we didn’t want it to be me standing there being like, I hate you people! Its more just, I don’t understand what’s going on behind me… you took your kids indoors to play on stuff that should be outdoors, you have no idea of the safety rating on this!

I know that feeling sometimes, like I go to the shops or a café and you’ll hear the conversations of people around you and you think, wow! I really am different from most people.

NK: Absolutely!

ALM: It’s funny how people would love to stare at us but the minute we stare back at them they’d be like, ‘oh shit!’ and run [laughs].

It’s funny how we can be more accepting of other people even if they’re not into what we are but then on the flip side, they can’t accept us. It’s so weird.

NK: It’s totally true!

I also love the ‘Total Total Damage’ film clip too. I know you built that set. It’s fun how Nicola is completely destroying the set and Adam, you’re just crouched down in the middle of it all totally calm. What were you thinking of in that moment to stay calm and in the zone?

ALM: You should see the very first time she swung the sledgehammer about an inch from my head! I grabbed her leg and was like; what are you doing?! [laughs]. Once that was established…

NK: There’s a lot of trust!

ALM: We always say, that if we die on an aeroplane going to a show or on stage or making a music video… well, there’s a lot of worse ways to go [laughs].

I’ve noticed in both film clips lampshades make an appearance.

NK: I think a lot of our visual work deals with domesticity and domestic situations and ritual.

ALM: We also love that the idiot always puts the lampshade on their head! [laughs]. We’ve used it in a lot of our video visuals…. we did a performance piece with Dorit Chrysler at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York; she’s a theremin player from Austria. We created a performance piece together called We’re Thinking About These Lamps. Nicola put contact mics on a bunch of lamps, while Dorit and I performed music, Nicola played lamps. We’re always just playing on putting the domestic into a public situation, which has a lot to do with being in isolation and going out into the public.

It’s so cool that you both work across so many different mediums whether it’s music, visual art, performance art, film, photography or whatever.

ALM: When you work in a different medium you suddenly perceive things differently. You start to see what you’re really talking about and maybe not what’s superficial.

NK: Everything starts informing each other. If you start getting burnt out on music… really I think that back in 2008 that was the big problem that we were only doing music and we weren’t doing visual work, that’s why we had to stop. When we started back up again we knew we had to have a better balance of visual and music because otherwise it becomes too one-sided and it’s not interesting and it’s not inspiring.

Are there any books that you’ve read that have had a profound impact on you?

ALM: That would be the Holy Bible and The Art Of The Deal by Donald Trump! [laughs].

NK: [Laughs] Oh geeze! We have a lot of books and I read a lot of books but I don’t have something that’s become a staple.

ALM: It depends on what kind of inspiration we’re looking for.

Are you working on anything else now?

NK: Oh, yeah. We’re working on our live set.

ALM: Which is so hard because we want to work on it and we’ve rebuilt what the live rig is, obviously there’s tons of new songs in the set but, you just don’t know when you’re gonna do it. It’s such a strange feeling! I’ve always been more of a deadline orientated artist. It’s going well though.

NK: I’m actually working on… going into the isolation and lockdown and “shelter in place” it really brought up the realisation of how many songs throughout the past 25 years of working, how appropriate the lyrics are for this time and moment in our lives. I’ve been working on the idea of working on a book that’s the lyrics of these songs but, it’s more in form of a poetry book… also doing a recording of the words. I’ve been researching about poets who cross the line between visual artist, and music… it’s a whole new inspiration and world that I’m learning about. It’s exciting!

Anything else you’d like to tell me or add?

ALM: When I got the email from you, Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie zine… our album is called Gimmie Trouble, it comes from the [Black Flag] song ‘Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie’… I asked Nicola if we could spell the title that way because when I was fourteen I grew up in a small town in Indiana and a future friend moved up from Atlanta. I was like; how do you know about all this weird music I want to hear but can’t find it anywhere? He said his older brother had lots of that stuff and would make me a tape. The next day he brought me a tape which was my first tape; side A was Everything Went Black by Black Flag and side B was Depeche Mode’s A Broken Frame. I always say to this day that, that’s who I am as a musician  because of that tape, I have both parts in me!

Please check out: ADULT. / ADULT. bandcamp / Perception is/as/of Deception out on Dais Records.