Jasmine Hirst photo.
Lydia Lunch doesn’t particularly care whether people are offended by her art.
From her beginnings in New York no wave outfit, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, to her spoken-word performances, to her collaborations with Rowland S Howard in Shotgun Wedding, Swans’ Michael Gira, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, Bob Quine (Richard and the Hell and the Voidoids), right through to her more recent profane expositions on the United States under Donald Trump, Lunch’s self-defined brief has been deliberately and avowedly confrontationalist.
In her own words, Lunch is a conceptualist, exploring concepts that highlight the exploitation and marginalisation of the individual in contemporary society, the typically patriarchal and oppressive discourse wielded by institutions of power.
If you can’t stand the heat in Lunch’s artistic kitchen, go find yourself a fast-food media joint and starve on the processed, intellectually bankrupt crud that masquerades as entertainment.
In May 2018 Lunch returns to Australia with her Retrovirus concept, trawling across her 40-year career with the aid of Bob Bert (Sonic Youth, Chrome Cranks), Weasel Walter (The Flying Luttenbachers) and Algis Kizys (Swans). I spoke to Lydia Lunch in her sometime home town of New York City.
Telling the tempestuous and tragically short life story of ex-New York Dolls and Heartbreakers drummer Jerry Nolan was always going to be a formidable challenge. American author Curt Weiss has succeeded with "Stranded in The Jungle. Jerry Nolan’s Wild Ride", the unvarnished biography of one of New York rock and roll's most mercurial figures.
It's an account of a man whose flaws were seemingly as large as his talents. Nolan was the pre-eminent rock and roll drummer of his era but his life was scarred by drug addiction. His death at 45 - almost certainly AIDS-related, according to "Stranded In The Jungle" - came hard on the heels of that of his bandmate Johnny Thunders, and closed a time in NYC that we won't see again. The book's theme is that Nolan's playing skills and style were admirable; his addiciton and treatment of others much less so.
Weiss' book takes us through the underbelly of rock and roll on a trail littered by used syringes, stymied ambition and squandered opportunities. Importantly though, "Stranded in The Jungle" makes the place of the Dolls in punk rock's continuum crystal clear. And is impossible to put down.
Curt Weiss consented to talk about his book from his Seattle home. Here's the lowdown.
Guess who's coming to dinner? Kid Congo Powers (right) and the Pink Monkey Birds.
Kid Congo Powers’ musical career is a lens through which can be seen some of the most intense and evocative music of the last 40 years.
Born Brian Tristan in the Los Angeles suburb of La Puente, Kid Congo Powers famously met Jeffrey Lee Pierce in the line at a Pere Ubu concert. Pierce was the president of the LA chapter of the Blondie Fan Club; Powers was the president of local chapter of The Ramones Fan Club. Pierce recruited Powers to join his fledgling band, Creeping Ritual, later to become The Gun Club.
In 1980 Powers joined psychobilly band The Cramps, who’d recently moved to LA from New York (it was Cramps lead singer Lux Interior who bestowed Brian Tristan with the moniker Kid Congo Powers).