On the crazy train with visionary blaster Billy Tsounis
"Warp Delights" - Billy Tsounis (self released)
I think I may have heard "Cow Lands Plane Eats Pilot" before, or maybe it was just in a dream, I've been having pretty heavy heady, horizonless dreams lately and me and Billy Tsounis are sometimes tuned in to some of the same static-y frequencies.
I dunno why it makes me think of aliens and toasted pop tarts on space saucers, but it's possibly something to do with my Valter Longo intermittent fasting regimen and this infinitely sentimental time of year. I like "Serene" space rock invested with swirling sensuality and delicate little wing kozmic blues sound rituals.
Billy Tsounis is from Cali via Boston via Greece with the Milky Way still in his untamed stare. He's still got that get down like they don't know how in this ghost town. I find his music very therapeutic and uplifting, he transcends every definable genre , space and time. He brings on the machine gun compound crackling speaker bullhorn manifesto and the magic carpet ride away to Morocco or Marrakesh or wherever it is that rich rock stars may still retreat from gentrified iPhone society to smoke hash or sit at the feet of Jamaican holy rollers and receive their crystal visions in silky opium dens, like decadent emperors. He does not really belong to any one religious practice or musical discipline. He is not here to please yo mama's easily digested tv programming sensibilities.
He's got that higher seeking curiosity, a crazy calling, some might say a curse, to locate and create and convey and transport and transform...to find out what's up there, or at least what's in here. He's not interested in your petty old man morals, or being understood by overpaid Spin Magazine NYU music critics.
Myself, I have always liked the non conformist rule breakers, outside artists, freaky spirits, and pioneers. Where I grew up, I was always getting punched in the nose, and having my ugly glasses broken, by larger football animals, for the fashion crimes of pink makeup and purple sequins. I really loved David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Prince. I did not live in an art town, I lived in a jail and football town. Even material girl, Madonna, was too deep and edgy for the golf shirts and weight-lifters who were supposedly popular at my suburban middle school. All the Biff and Buffy wrestling team and blow-dried sex-doll people eschewed any kind of music that was anything other than make-out in the Transmaro sonic wallpaper, ala Journey and Hall & Oates; or maybe some Judas Priest and Scorpions pump you up, sports team, preppie gym aggression.
I was a total misfit weirdo Frankenstein scarecrow figure much hated by the PMRC moms and juvie judges for wearing earrings, a little mascara, cheap and sticky aerosol hair product, and for turning my friends on to still taboo books and records, rather than their strict diet of sports and patriotism, status symbol acquiring, and owning cars. I was a bit of an anomaly in that I was into Van Halen and Adam & The Ants. The first 3 Def Leppard records, but also the Cure and Joy Division. You were supposed to pick a side. The stonewashed denim peeps who smoked Marlboros reds outside the arcade seldom consorted with the Dead Milkmen and Violent Femmes nerds and geeklings who all inherited hand me down REM and Descendants t shirts from older siblings away at college, and danced in jolly circles to the B-52's, in jelly shoes and long trench coats, awkwardly, like airplanes, at the local establishment disco's teen night.
There was friction between the 120 Minutes watching square pegs of my generation and the more macho and basic Headbanger's Ball thrash-metal, stadium anthem, and power ballad enthusiasts. According to the wealthier, mandatory short haired, Black Flag and Fugazi preppie punks, I was forbidden from enjoying solo Billy Idol, the Cult, or perish the thought: Guns N Roses.
Somebody insisted that it was heretic blasphemy to self identify as punk but have long hair, or listen to deedly cowboy bands with spread legged guitar soloing, but like I said, fitting in was never gonna be my forte, aspiration or modus operandi-to me, rigorous conformity felt more like a warning than an example, I had no desire to be hazed into their boy-scout fraternities and whitebread cults of crew-cut compliance. It was just so not my bag, man. To honky suburbanites, punk will always be about owning stuff-the most Doc Martins, framed grunge era art posters, import 45's, vintage gear, this was peculiar as hell to me as a confused kid, trying to forge alliances, and form bands, and carve out a space to create what WE wanted, rather than simple-mindedly obeying the mom-pleasing haves on the hill.
Really, there were only like four or five punks in my county, if you count the chick who loved Inxs and Duran Duran, and they all determinedly hated the busy spandex wankings of guitar-hero metal shredders, but strangely, all seemed to love Steve Vai's bloody thundering, along with Ginger Baker's hippie thumping, all over Public Image Ltd's international dropout's anthem, "RISE". The combat boots stood by their Steve Jones minimalist primitivism and stripped down to raw essentials, one chord wonderful riff rock, while the muscle shirted Bon Jovi perms from the tonier, tailgate party side of town, the Reaganite Randy Rhoades devotees, cared only for having the bigger/biggest Marshalls and fastest wanking, having needlessly loud stereos in fast cars, they scorned songs with messages or intelligent lyrics, unless it had something to do with like, Neal Pert, Narnia, or Star Trek-the Iron Maiden metal edgers just liked it bigger, loudest, expensive, faster, harder, more, most, etc. They all became Metallica fans. Now, they vote Trump.
And so do most of the ex punks, honestly. Cable TV fried their brains. As a leopard print leggings clad anorexic glam kid, I had one pink leopard brothel creeper in the guttersnipe protest furor and righteous working class anthems of the Clash, and one knee-high Stephen Sprouse retro-futuristic day-glow green furry boot on the confetti strewn stage with the epic party all night Vaudevillie extravaganza of David Lee Roth and company. I liked to carouse and drink and make merry and laugh, but I also wanted to overturn the hypocrisy and endless double standards of the greedhead status quo, and help organize a more just and humane and egalitarian all for one, squatter glamarchist creative carnival commune, outside of society. I was part gypsy and part show-biz. Partly truth and partly fiction. A little bit rebel yell and a little bit atomic punk, it was all just rocknroll to me.
I was way more of a rock punk than a punk rock, I guess. I mostly could be heard blaring the belligerent streetwise snarl of the Sex Pistols and Deadboys from my little hole in the wall apartments, but always loved the tasteful pop eloquence and understatement of James Honyman Scott, and the starman razzle-dazzle and far the fuck out in the cometsphere cosmic cowboy explosions and fantasy illustrations of planet boys like Ronson, Derwood, and Steve Stevens. I rolled my eyes when people wanted to rant about the rule handbook that insisted one must always slavishly imitate one specific guitar player with a particularly fab haircut, at all times, and never go near an effects pedal. I liked all the acid-head blasts of air-brush spacebattling and bare chested amazon warrior goddesses, and Jack Kirby meets Jake E. Lee sonic laser shows, black light posters, asteroid crashes and streaky sunsets.
All this is why I have this real appreciation for crazy train visionary blaster, Billy Tsounis, who is like a heavy metal Sun Ra. A painter with infinitely courageous versatility and an energetic enthusiasm for following the muse wherever she may flit or flutter. He combines all the nuances, textures and exploding galaxies of every generation's favorite guitar players into one fast moving Hunter S. Thompson hallucinogenic party-crash into Jimi Hendrix's mermaid alcove. He blowtorches all rules, genres, boundaries, labels, descriptions.
Kerouac said truth can only exist in music, I'm a word man, myself, I don't listen to instrumental music much, at all, unless it's something undeniable like say Link Wray's "Rumble", something that's just seething with sex and swagger, danger and outlaw fifties stripper, hot-rod exotica jungle pulse. Tsounis can churn out some of the grittiest, nastiest, fiendishly low-down back alley stained mattress, crack-pipe smoke of a Johnny Winter, or John Lee Hooker, or Billy Gibbons thinkin' about Roky Erikson, punch drunk, blackout saunter through the French Quarter on his way back to the fortune teller's hotel room from the voodoo graveyard on one song, like all his work with Captain Zapped and Fat Nancy, and then, spirit you off to some jet-set highbrow museum soiree on the Roxy side of the French Riviera for tea and crumpets with Brian Eno and Grace Jones and Nina Simone. He consorts with poncey Poindexter eggheaded ivory tower academics and their annoyingly loud and pretentious art collector ex wives and raving, hex-casting, backporch sea-hag, wino-witches, and elderly washboard players with mad glints and black cat bones, and toothless streetbrawlers and interdimensional space pirates. He is about the best there is, when it comes to possessing a seemingly effortless ability to channel every thusfar unglimpsed hybrid hue from the beyond the beyond spectrum, he does atomic meltdowns like Brother Wayne Kramer, Robert Fripp science experiments, Steve Vai comic book alchemy, K Bombay dandified grandeur and Frank Gerace absinthe adventuring, all with total ease and casual grace. Damn shame you can't get good acid, anymore, but the drug-warring, prison profiteering ruling class wants you imprisoned or enslaved, not learning how to play saxophone or dissolving into one higher vibration.
England has Ray Sonic Hanson from the Whores Of Babylon and Thee Hypnotics. police-state Murkkka has the Mercury-winged space travelling messenger, Billy Tsounis. He's really totally gotta be from another planet or another time, guitar players like him only come around every so often. Iggy Pop told David Letterman you have to look for them in sleazy after hours bars, in the bad part of Hollywood where he found Andy McCoy, but they are becoming rarer and rarer, still. Sleazepunks like me and you, mostly know Billy Tsounis from his potent and powerful contributions to Alex Mitchell's revolutionary electric shamanic motorcycle bandito fire dancing in Circus Of Power side projects and various spin-off bands, but fans of Frank Zappa and Steve Vai and King Crimson and '70s prog might be more hip to his Dali-esque moon-dapplings in Vaseline Tuner, who reminded me of the early Flaming Lips.
His solo CDs are like crazy religious scrolls delivered to us from another universe-he's wild, he gets it, he's a real genius metal guru who composes this most high, I & I, instinctive like Lee Scratch Perry, middle aged symphonies to goddesses with scuzzy feedback and luminous hammer-on's. A holyman with a spacegun in his red patent holster drinking champagne in the morning with the aliens hovering above your home in the throbbing blue disc who were sent to protect you from the fascist armies and drug war gestapo. His music is infused with a pure joy and wonderment, it's like waking up with wedding cake in your hair wondering how you ever caught the attentions of someone so fair. You can know he is an exceptional dazzler, because he even appeals to people like me, who have never, never owned a CD by the likes of Joe Satriani or Yngwie Malmsteen-but I can groove to Billy Tsounis' inexhaustible array of psychedelic silver tones all night long. You might like it if you are into Jeff Ward's Electrajest, Thee Hypnotics, stoner metal, that sortof thing. T Rex on wheels of fire. "Gone Swamp Shopping" reminds me of Captain Beefheart being led around on the back of a camel by Mitch Mitchell in the summer of love. "Too Nervous To Reincarnate" is exactly what you want to hear if you still have some fortress of solitude mountainside hideaway Sherpa who can get you access to forbidden recreationals. Air raid-sirens, and watching the dawn's early tricks of light play through the cathedral's stained glass windows.
"Last Dance Space Boots" is fuzzed out, slow motion disco from the angry red planet. Volcanic grinding with a darkeyed royal in an outdated Halston ensemble. "Babalas Lilo" is another of his enchanted slithers through some rabbit hole occult sect's secret screed's underwater, you will get the sense that Billy Tsounis knows secrets that we mere mortals and ageing dishwashers with bum hands simply can not.
"Becoming Butterfly" sends me back to some carefree and reckless joyrides through backroad Amish Country with my 100 mile an hour hallucinating evil henchman, when everything was still possible and we were about to join forces with the Native American goth-guitarist who grew up in Laurel Canyon in a big house with Arthur Lee. We were like THIS CLOSE to becoming the ghetto drunk yankee echo of the Dogs D'Amour, but we got distracted by various bombshells, and thankfully, the Four Horsemen showed up in the nick of time to complete our mission, while we sulked about our failures. It reminds me of doing mime with Marin Sander Holzman and Greg Goldston, as a kid--man, did I ever suck at mime. I was always a drunken Bad Santa Shakes The Clown, at heart.
Billy Tsounis has somehow seen the future, but still preserved his enlightened serenity and third eyed feral innocence, even amidst the unforgivable tsunami of hate propaganda, kids in concentration camps, controlled media puppet-muzak, and grotesque non-stop cheerleading for endless war. He's some kinda crazy angel, half man, half time twister. It should be obvious I am in no way inferring this flame browed artist par excellence does, or has ever done drugs, I am saying his music IS a drug. Like Salvador Dali. 'Felt like I had to spell that out extra clearly because so many hoodwinked zombies are so plugged-in to tv propaganda culture. "Messy Nostalgia Machines" might make you think of the Soft Machine...and Carlos Castaneda...Bill Burroughs Thanksgiving prayers, and Isaac Asimov.
"Warp Delights" is like soulful Christmas music from Mars with everlasting ecstasy in your merry men eggnog, good stuff, just in time for your neverland psychedelic holiday season.