Broken Window Theory: Getting between the cracks with Jeff Ward of New York City's ElectraJets
"There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in..." (Cohen)
One of the most exuberant and enlivening, new, modern bands I've discovered in what seems like forever, ElectraJets, is led by an Englishman named Jeff Ward and a Canadian named Cynthia Ross. You might be hip to those names from the B-Girls, Gunfire Dance or New York Junk, but the forthcoming full-length album, "Transatlantic Tales", is by their Gotham band, ElectraJets.
It's a rocket through time and space, pulsating with an irresistible beat and likely to appeal to fans of Detroit protest music, Julian Cope's Black Sheep and "Cut The Crap" busking. There's something here for fans of Pretty Things or Blue Cheer, so beautiful it hurts Love & Rockets-style nocturnal pop, '60s prog, '70s glitter, Marc Bolan, Bowie and the Stones.
I told an old pal how awed I am by the ElectraJets' extremely formidable rhythm section, who have a total mastery of that boot boy stompin' 70s' Slade/Leader Of The Gang/Bo Didddley beat, that makes you wanna get out of your sad old man chair and dance in front of the mirror. It's down the rabbit hole rock 'n' roll, with many varying moods, genres, textures and layers - from delicate memories to volcanic eruptions, bruised romanticism and rooftop hymns. It's far-flung and forward thinking, neon hued and cinematic, and it will make you involuntarily want to move your body.
Jeff Ward the authoir gives a reading. Lynn Cappiello photo.
Some of the best nights of my life were spent in a crazy haze, going to see live bands, in the ain't too pretty big city. Bands like Gunfire Dance, Pillbox, Thee Hypnotics, The Waldos, Johnny Thunders, Cheetah Chrome, and Circus Of Power. Rivington Street used to be my playground, but not anymore. Gunfire Dance's own NYC Beat Poet, Jeff Ward, has always been more interested in collecting ideas than objects, which is perhaps why his songwriting and powerful novels are so compelling. He's a heavy reader so wherever he travels, he has a deeper gratitude for a place's peoples, art/history, music/culture, styles and customs, than your average TV-watching sports fan; which is probably how he manages to have so much humane compassion for his confused and dumbed down fellow Murkkkans. Even after all the grief and adversity he details in his gripping, tragicomic books, Ward still possess the warmhearted generosity and sincerity of a wide-eyed innocent.
ElectraJets' music is infused with a startlingly alive and youthful spirit, a vital force that I don't get enough of. They've somehow located that sub-atomic, majestic sonic sweet spot, that effortlessly evokes '50s delinquent attitude from black and white movies, subversive and foreboding '60s acid casualty bad-dreaminess, and '70s glam gang bubblegum. It's as if, they've all tuned-in to a frequency from another time.
It is is always a pleasure to catch up with my kindred spirit and fellow traveler, Jeff Ward, as he always has so much good humor and valuable insight, historical context, and keen observational powers to share. In the following conversation, we discuss the three soul-baring books he's written, his storied musical history, the horrifying state of Murkkka with it's war machine, race-patrols and kid-cages, and when the Gunfires used to gig with Thee Hypnotics.
Oh yeah, Ray Sonic Hanson, the legendary Thee Hypnotics and Ray Hanson's Whores Of Babylon legendary lightning lord, blasts his vibrant barrage of Motor City Inferno guitar all over this spectacular new ElectraJets record!
The ElectraJets record is a revivifying explosion of energetic rock 'n' roll, dangerous driving on desert highways, hallucinogenic summery pop home movies, and some weird after-hours scenes inside the velvet goldmine. I strongly urge you to get a hold of it, especially, if you ever appreciated early glam, gypsy jazz, damage case drug music, or Max's Kansas City punk debauchery.
Jeff Ward and Cynthia Ross with Bob Bert (Pussy Galore, Sonic Youth) sitting in on drums. Johan Vipper photo.
Everyone always believes that their own personal time in the bars was the golden years heyday of underground rock 'n' roll music...but not me, man. I was always in the wrong place at the wrong time, sorry I'm late. I was always showin' up on the scene right when the gentrification landlords and millionaire trust fund protecting, jackboots gestapo were squeezin' all the poor folks and old-school B-Boys, rebel hearted runaways, and corner stoop loosie peddlers out of all the old timey bohemian enclaves. All I ever glimpsed was the last mournful hours of big burly bouncers in Target-bought CBGB's t shirts, ACAB night-sticks, and ratty curb couches from sudden evictions, always seeing it all from the wrong side of the red velvet ropes, with the goose-steppin' robo-cops clink clink clinkin' and the yuppie mimosa-brunchers dink dink, a dinkin'.
I remember a time in the late 90's when the overnight ascent of the Strokes and all those hipster Spin Magazine model duos signalled the permanent expulsion of working class zeroes like me. ElectraJetss and friends have sparked-off a return to pre-Giuliani, pre-gentrification, Downtown NYC values. They all innately understand and revere the righteous traditions of Our Gang and puttin' on a show, the potluck and the hootenanny, and are building a true community that only ever comes from cooperation, resource sharing, collaboration, cross-pollination, and dumping all the old stuff on the floor and rebuilding again from scratch.
It's super inspiring, to see these catalysts and scene makers returning to active duty, making dynamic new sounds, and promoting eclectic bills boasting a diverse array of fresh talent, unexpected reunions, organizing benefits, being mentors, and setting an example of how real rock 'n' roll magic can still be effectively conjured by a dedicated couple of nurturing bohemians and life-long libertines. Both Jeff and Cynthia exemplify that Downtown spirit that had gone missing for what seemed to me like a painfully long time .
I always keep my electric eye on Jeff Ward and Cynthia Ross and friends because I find their revolutionary stirrings exceptionally uplifting, and perhaps more importantly, because the ElectraJetss have made this totally timeless and monumental CD together called, "Transatlantic Tales"!
Jeff Ward. Johan Vipper photo.
General Labor: As you know, I am big fan of your writing. What are some essential books everyone should purchase as gifts for young people, in addition to your own? Who are some of your favorite authors and please discuss each of your novels; and also, where people who appreciate that very alive and potent beat style of spontaneous picture taking can special order your books? "Carry On Dreaming" particularly reminds me of my favorite '60s writers and makes me nostalgic for adventurous road trips back when we foolish hearted dropouts were still young and carefree and could still legally purchase that cheap ass mirth-inducing truck-stop speed over the counter, before the prison shareholders eliminated access to any legal recreational libations besides booze. I can remember many a mischievous merry midnight road-trip through decaying Americana on Route 66 in my own misspent youth, so your book always makes me smile, and brings back all those old movies and highway ghosts in my mind.
JEFF WARD: Thank you for saying that, it really means a lot. People can order my books online from the usual suspects, although I’d prefer it if they walk into a small bookstore and order it through them. I’m old-fashioned that way.
I think every American family home would benefit from having a copy of A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn on hand. This said, I know I wasn’t too interested in history as a kid. Probably because the general message was that there’s always been war and there always will be, just memorize the dates and shut up!
It was only the counter-culture icons who offered any alternative narrative growing up in England, although even Punk/Ska (as it was packaged via the media) was very war-like. With the 1960’early70’s you were presented with Lennon’s "give peace a chance", as well as Marley’s spiritual/religious alternatives, which were extremely deep concepts to discover growing up.
I don’t have children, but it’s obvious to me that millions and millions of them are far, far deeper thinkers than I was, or those around me were, when I was growing up. I’m sure they have no problem understanding such open-minded, open-hearted concepts (which inspires hope in me, personally speaking). The problem seems to be that the millions and millions are up against the vast billions who are not (have not) been exposed to such open-minded concepts in other societies. Which is clearly a deliberate act perpetrated by various countries ruling elites worldwide.
If I had kids I’d probably encourage them to read Steinbeck. Also, I’d encourage plenty of Mark Twain, then sneak in Richard Wright’s short story book, "Uncle Tom’s Children".
So far I’ve published three of my books, with a fourth on the way. I wrote "Parasite" first (although published it second). It’s probably the one most people associate me with. I always get a good response to it because of its fast pace and grittiness, and a sense that the reader has lived the same experiences themselves, or a wilder, ‘black sheep’ family member has, and they lived (and feared) that life vicariously.
I’ve received numerous compliments about it, but my favourites are when people say that it scared them straight, so to speak. It made them look in the mirror and ask ‘what have I become?’ I always viewed "Parasite" as an unapologetic, cautionary tale. That’s the way I viewed Burroughs "Junky", it saved me from myself.
"Carry On Dreaming" is the follow-up to "Parasite" and is my most recent published work. The subtitle to "Parasite" is "joyous flashbacks amidst a crystal meth nightmare", so "Carry On Dreaming" is the dream after the nightmare. It’s far more optimistic. It’s more "red wine, beer, and weed" in the tradition of the Beat writers. I’m more political than the Beat writers, though, taking my cue from political junkies like James Baldwin, Lydia Lunch, Nick Zedd, Hunter Thompson, Gore Vidal, Chris Hedges (that’s the shortlist!). The dream part is also the American Dream, my take on it, as an immigrant. There’s more of an essay-type feel to it, examining my new country’s history and psychology.
I’d fallen in love with this country long before moving here, through folk music, the blues, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll, and its writers, of course. I was living and travelling around the America outside of NYC from 1997 to 2000, but I was living back in Brooklyn when 9/11 happened and America changed, so there’s a "before and after" theme to the storyline.
America’s political upheavals have always fascinated me, particularly those relating to Civil Rights era, and earlier. These upheavals were directly related to those same artistic forces, folk, blues, jazz, rock n roll. I wanted to become one of the writers who celebrated life and art, and We The People’s history, and open-mindedness, and open-heartedness, because their collective forces are far more powerful than the Fascist forces who hate all these things.
The first book I published, "Mac & Beth", is my homage to an English writer-comedian named Spike Milligan, with plenty of Mark Twain and Irvine Welsh thrown in, even some Shakespeare. The cast of characters are very much based on people I knew, who inhabited the British ecstasy scene around the early-mid 90’s. There was a big cross-pollination of scenes, rock ‘n’ roll, acid jazz, Mod, funky crazy-head types, old-timey punks, regular ‘lads’. That drug, for good or bad, allowed people to throw off their inhibitions and, amazingly, even their egos. The results could be extreme, there were football hooligan types, the "lads", some of them racist, some homophobic, literally embracing people of color, and gays.
It was a beautiful thing. The drug allowed the light in, then it was up to the person to embrace the moment of enlightenment in the ‘real world’ afterwards. The book is a comedy about a bunch of football hooligan types who unwittingly act out Macbeth whilst under the influence of various drugs including ecstasy.
General Labor:. Please share the origins of ElectraJets, your earlier incarnations and how you were able to gradually convene that world class super group to record such a satisfying real album experience?
I am really impressed by the spectrum of diverse emotions and picturesque storytelling on "Transatlantic Tales", and wow, the sound you got is so huge, it really sounds like a big-budget major label production from the old days when records really mattered to most of us. I told my old running buddy it is like an updated glitter rock Sgt. Pepper or Pet Sounds for anguished guttersnipes and burnt-out recluses, like us. FANTASTIC songs.
Cynthia and Jeff with Bob Bert (centre).
JEFF WARD: Again, thanks for saying such kind things about our new record … After Gunfire Dance split-up I moved to New York with the sole intention of writing books. It was a very romantic notion! Of course certain lines sounded like lyrics, so a bunch of songs emerged which I recorded at home on a basic 8-track analogue. I wasn’t interested in being in a band anymore, but gave the project a band name, ElectraJets, rather than Jeff Ward solo. I certainly hadn’t left Gunfire Dance to become a solo artist or anything like that (… actually, I never left Gunfire Dance, it was Ozzie and Ray who left their own band with me still in it, unbearable asshole that I was! ... then Ant left me in New York (twice, in fact!) for pretty much the same reason ... But that’s another story).
Anyway, I did write books and I continued to record songs at home, but I had no plan or exposure for about ten years. It was only when I met a really interesting percussionist/drummer named Tom Gradante that I started to play live gigs for a few years. We recorded a CD together called Primal Unity Rox, which, although there was only two of us, was a real band. I was really happy with the way that CD came out, the songs and the additional instrumentation etc, but as a live act we were kind of flat (I certainly was). In Gunfire Dance I was a guitarist playing alongside a wild and dynamic band, with a fantastic singer and frontman.
I really have no stagecraft as a singer/guitarist. I’ve gotten better, but I still really hate the role I’ve somehow thrust myself into. There’s been a couple of guys and gals in New York who I wish could have fronted for me, but it’s too late now, I’m the voice of the band. It would require forming a whole other band, and I’m too involved with writing to dedicate the time for a new musical project. Plus, I don’t want to waste others’ time by doing anything half-assed.
Of course, now I have Cynthia Ross as my collaborator and motivator, which has transformed ElectraJets (singular) into ElectraJets (plural). We met at the 100 Club in London. Gunfires, Ozzie, Darre Birch (Birchy) and Jez Miller were Walter Lure’s UK Waldos, and I wasn’t going to miss seeing my brothers play with one of our heroes. At some point Oz suggested that I should open the night since I was going to be there anyway. Cynthia and Joe Sztabnik had played a New York Junk show in Prague the night before, and so that’s how we all met.
I’ll get to my joining New York Junk in a moment, but with regard to ElectraJetss, Cynthia is one of the few people who’s ever understood where I was coming from, musically, and her unique bass playing made songs that I’d only recorded as experimental demos come to life in a very cool way. We re-worked some of my old songs and wrote a bunch of new ones, too, while she looked for a drummer.
Johan Vipper photo.
When she found Dahm Majuri Cipolla it was an instant, and perfect fit. His own band, the Phantom Family Halo has some core similarities with ElectraJets, I think, with both being simple rock ‘n’ roll bands with lots of room for experimentation. He thought we sounded similar to Red Crayola, a band who Phantom has covered and recorded. Like Cynthia, Dahm had a highly transformative affect upon ElectraJets. Both as a rhythm section, and with their choice of songs from my repertoire, they created a heavier, proto-punk vibe for the band. They also made me feel much more confident onstage.
Because Dahm had recently played and recorded with Martin Bisi, he turned us onto the idea of recording ‘Transatlantic Tales’ at Martin’s legendary B.C. Studio in Gowanas, Brooklyn. This was a marvellous idea, since Martin is so truly, truly brilliant, and just the most modest, easy-going guy you’d ever want to meet and make music with. Danny Ray came over and added some sax, and Sarah Amina added lots of violin. Then later, after I’d sent the tracks to my mate Paul Gray, he went down to London and recorded Ray Sonic Hanson over-dubbing on about five songs.
It was such an amazing gift to have Ray jam along and add all these great guitar licks and screaming wah parts. I’d written a quirky song based on Ray and Cynthia’s marathon phone calls which had been occurring since the two of them had connected on Facebook. I remember one day Cynthia asked me “who’s this Ray guy? He’s crazy. I really like him.” When I looked I couldn’t believe it was Ray Hanson, a genuine hero of mine from Thee Hypnotics. I saw that he’d been in contact with Birchy from Gunfire Dance too. I’d been away from England for twenty-odd years so I had no idea if Ray was alive or dead, to be honest, and here he was, this madcap, reclusive Barrett-enigma with his first laptop (I think), chatting away with Cynthia for hours on end. The whole thing was very magical and beautiful, and hilarious at the same time. Totally worthy of a song!
Way before we recorded at Martin’s, I’d posted an 8-track demo version of 4 a.m. Strangeways on FB, which Ray ‘liked’ and made a very sweet comment about. Then, months later, in a private message he offered to play on the recordings we’d just done with Martin. I was floored, it wasn’t an offer I was going to let pass. It was an absolute honor.
We actually used that demo version of "4 a.m. Strangeways" as the opening track on the album (and a demo version of a song called One and One, also), just for old-time’s sake, for scratchiness’ sake, and because the demos captured the way we actually sound when we sit in Cynthia’s apartment strumming and drinking wine.
It was a massive rigamarole getting the 8-track reel to reel demos done though. There was no studio with isolated booths or any of that. So first I recorded about nine songs with an acoustic guitar and guide vocal in my apartment, then hauled the (40/50 pound) 8-track recorder (plus mixing deck and cords) to Dahm’s rehearsal space where he mic’d up his drums and played along (which was an amazing feat on his behalf!) Next I hauled everything over to Cynthia’s place, where she added bass and Sarah played violin.
Then I hauled it back to my place and added some electric guitar, and some keys, and mixed everything onto a CD, minus vocals. It was as I was mixing things that the recorder and mixing desk began to die a slow death. It was a vintage machine, but I think the misty rain that fell upon it while Cynthia and I were trying to find a cab to get me home from her place that killed it. So of the nine songs I was only able to get five onto the CD. I then brought the CD to Joe Sztabnik’s studio, panned it center-right through his setup, then added my vocals and a couple more guitars. I still think the rigamarole was worth it.
General Labor: Tell me about NY Junk, how you met your bandmates, what are some of the highlights of that adventure so far, what's going on with that group right now? Didn't you guys make a second album?
JEFF WARD: I’ve already explained how we all met at the 100 Club. So when we got back to NY, Cynthia asked me if I wanted to open for them, then later Joe invited me to record some of my songs at his studio, then somewhere in the story, they invited me to play guitar with them (one night!). They’d had Joey Pinter at times, and Joff Wilson, and probably others I’m forgetting, but I seemed to stick. I certainly loved playing along to those songs.
Joe is a fine songwriter, and playing with them is the closest I’ve felt to playing with Gunfire Dance. With Joe and Gary and Cynthia there’s always the chance that everything will fall apart and be a complete disaster onstage, which is just how every gig with the Gunfires was, too.
It’s a hard thing to explain but I think it makes for some great theater for the audience (… I know this because when I’m on stage with New York Junk I’m also part of the audience watching, too, I’m a fan of the band as much as I’m in it). Still, you can’t get away with that ‘potential-disaster thing’, unless you have really good songs to hold everything together. Which both bands do, in my biased opinion.
Yes, there’s a third NYJ record out (the first was CD only). Unfortunately, I’ve always missed out on recording with them. The one time I went to Europe with them it was just for gigs, and no recording sessions. Wrong place at the wrong time.
Johan Vipper photo.
General Labor : How is Cynthia's book(s) coming along?
JEFFWARD :You’d have to ask Cynthia about that. She’s writing all the time. I know that much.
General Labor: I know several of us who are really encouraged by the unstoppable perseverance of your circle of friends, and the way you all continue to accomplish such unprecedented creative landmarks, Cynthia with her revitalized B-Girls, you with your turbo-charged ElectraJets, even though it didn't all pan out instantly overnight. What's next for your gang?
JEFF WARD: Well, next for ElectraJets is a September record release and some gigs in England in November. Dahm got this amazing offer to join Mono, from Japan, so he no longer lives in New York. It’s kind of sad because we love him, and also great because we love him! Cynthia and I have been working really hard lately on new songs, and we can hear the sound of ElectraJets moving into new directions as they come along. We’re both kind of over the overt ‘glam’ phase that Dahm’s drumming allowed us to indulge ourselves in. We’re hearing more shakers, who knows?
General Labor: How long have you known Ray Hanson? Didn't Gunfire Dance and Thee Hypnotics share some history together? Tell me something about all your ElectraJets collaborators and co-conspirators.
JEFF WARD: I partly answered this one earlier. Regarding gigs together, Gunfire Dance opened for Thee Hypnotics three of four times, but to be honest, that was a period when everything was a mad blur. It’s pretty shameful to think that I remember almost nothing about any of those gigs. What I do remember isn’t much of a story, just some brief flashbacks with talk of old bluesmen and other shared influences. I remember that they were friendly and generous with the backstage booze ... the important things. Over the years, people who attended those gigs have told me that they were amazing. The irony is that at that stage of Gunfire Dance (towards the end) we probably were at our best. There was quite a lot of anger off-stage, which got translated into good energy onstage.
There’s quite a cool family tree developed over the years when you piece together Gunfire Dance’s association with Brian James and Rat Scabies (producing us, then Oz and Ray and Jez being Brian’s backing band), and Thee Hypnotics ties to Rat and Brian, and Stiv, and obviously Cynthia’s relationship with Stiv. Plus all their shared Walter Lure connections, with Cynthia and her husband, (the late) Billy Rogers, and Walter (and Steve Jones) performing as The Survivors during the '80s. Now there’s the ElectraJetss with Ray Hanson’s special guest performance on Transatlantic Tales, and Ozzie drumming with us at our upcoming UK shows.
General Labor: Who are some of your favorite NYC bands nowadays?
JEFF WARD: In no particular order, Beechwood, Pink Lips, Sweet Things, Trash Bags, The Advertisers, Daddy Long Legs.
General Labor: Do you know my pal Marty E. from Midnight Crisis?
JEFF WARD: Yes, I know Marty. He’s a lovely guy and a cool drummer. He told me long ago that if I ever needed a kickass drummer to reach out to him, which I did at some point, and he said he was ‘busy’ .. what the fuck, Marty!!
General Labor: I think he has to do the heavy bartend hustle constantly to pay that NY rent! What music do you listen to for pleasure, that is contemporary?
JEFF WARD: I feel very much out of the loop with the contemporary scene. Jacco Gardner, Aldous Harding, Fat White Family Band.
General Labor: How are we grassroots everyday people ever gonna wrestle any power back from the evil oligarchs when they own both political parties and the entire corporate media?
JEFF WARD: I’ve felt for a long time that "labelling" has so much to do with the problem. Republican and Democrat have become mere labels, rather than respectable, understandable, and challengeable ideologies. In America both labels represent corporate interests over The People’s. They represent the oligarchs. President Lincoln was a Republican and vehemently opposed to the intrusion of the European oligarchs’ who wanted cheap cotton (amongst many other things). The European oligarchs manufactured a civil war here (and seem to be well on the way to doing it again, sadly).
However, the current so-called Republican Party is the Oligarch party. They could never get elected if they ran as what the they really are; the Oligarch-Neo-Con Party, so they hide behind the Republican label. *It’s interesting (and tragic) that #45 was able to run against the Neo-Cons, but could still hide his brand of Fascism behind the Republican label (… of course, the Neo-con vampires have now re-emerged in the Trump-swamp, surprise, surprise!
On the other hand, the Democrat Party, the Clinton-clone party, is really the Fabian Society party, the wolves in sheep’s clothing party. The Democrat Party only represents its donors from the Oligarchy, which clearly owns both parties. … So in my opinion, we have to re-label both parties for what they really are. People need to come to terms with the plain and simple fact that the American political system has devolved into a One-party system. We have neither a Republic nor a Democracy, we have a Corporatocracy.
We The People have to re-label ourselves and our goals. For instance, if a real progressive movement were to label itself as ‘Capitalists for Labor Unions’ it would allow them to define the difference between Capitalism, and ‘crony capitalism’ and stop the oligarch-media from denouncing all ‘Union Rights’ activists as “Socialists.” Currently, and historically, by calling someone a ‘Socialist’ in America, that someone can be dismissed and swatted like a fly. Obviously there’s much, much more to it than that, but you get the drift. I’m into turning things on their heads and re-presenting them in wiser, tactical ways. With, of course, a strong, thoughtful, and measured argument, as opposed to the current wave of left-wing reactionaryism, which doesn’t help our cause (and drives me mad!). And, which we used to hate about right-wing reactionaries.
So we need to be thoughtful and tactical. Various statistics show that the American people like what ‘socialist things’ provide (let’s start with the 40-hour work week!) but they don’t like the word (mostly because they’ve been heavily propagandized to have a Pavlovian response to it), so let’s create a new vocabulary to describe our goals, and be done with socialist, or ‘new’ socialist.
Bernie Sanders’ embrace of the term proved how toxic it is in America. It was his description of his political goals that turned people on, not the term. Unfortunately for his "followers" he had taken the oath (right at the beginning of his campaign) to support "the nominee" Clinton, so I never wasted my time following him. It was terribly sad to see him deceive millions of really decent people, but it was absolutely their own fault for not taking the time to learn how the Democrat Party works. The super-delegate system is about as un-democratic as it gets. Historically speaking, its adoption of that system (in 1982) was the Democrat Party’s final goodbye (nail in the coffin) to anything ‘socialist’. Sanders knew this better than anyone, of course.
The same Pavlovian response to Socialism goes for the ‘conspiracy theorist’ label. However, by rejecting the Oligarch/CIA-mainstream-media’s label, and referring to yourself as a ‘deep state research analyst’, for instance (although, there’s probably far better description "label" than that!), I think there is a way to open up the conversation about what ‘government’ really is, what the ‘deep state’ is, and where the so-called ‘Government Of The People’, ‘the public government’ fits into the many invisible layers Government. It’s within these deeper layers of government that the worst corruption by occurs, where the rogue elements reside, shrouded in secrecy and "National Security"... where the conspiracies reside!
I guess it’s all about education, but as mentioned in response to your first question, such lines of education are actively discouraged and suppressed … which, in itself is a ‘conspiracy’, to keep the public ill-informed, dumbed down, as they say. Still, the ‘Sanders followers’ example proves that so-called well-educated people are still pretty dumb. Or, if you want to be kind, naïve, let’s say? (… I left school at 16 without passing any exams, just sayin’!)
All this said, this is just the political level, which seems completely rigged right now. That’s why the spiritual level is probably more important. Probably always has been! I think it was a deep spiritual righteousness (and not particularly religious-based) that helped the Labor Rights and Union movements, various 20th century anti-war movements, and the Civil Rights movement. The politics just followed the energy created by the spirit. I personally think that the growing Animal Rights movement is very important too, the recognition that we have a connectedness to the pain and suffering of planet’s creatures, great and small, and that torturing them to produce our luxury items, food and clothing both, has seen its day.
General Labor: What's your life like nowadays? What do you do for fun? what are you working on?
JEFF WARD: I go to my day job which is picture framing, then come home to my wife and cats, and write. The writing process is fun for me. I try to get out into nature whenever I can. I enjoy reading, songwriting, rehearsing/hanging-out, too, but generally don’t enjoy playing gigs the way I should. I’d rather go see other bands, support friends etc (it’s less stressful). Plus, in New York there’s always high quality to the bands passing through. I saw a very young punk group called The Drama two nights ago, an all-girl band I’d never heard of with 15 people in the audience, and it was just so raw and unexpected, and amazingly fresh. The way it should be.
I’m deeply involved with finishing a book I’ve been working on for close to five years, on and off. About the Tawana Brawley incident. I feel that she was treated so cruelly, and so wrongly by the so-called justice system, and the media, I just want to help correct the historical record.
I completed a fictionalized draft of about 150 pages, based on radio interviews that Tawana’s parents and Lawyer, Alton Maddox, did with Utrice Leid on WBAI’s Talkback show in 1997. I then decided to research the subject more to flesh out my story, at which point I got involved in writing a non-fiction essay which is predominantly a critique of the media’s collaboration in what I believe was a police cover-up.
I focus on two books that came out shortly after the case was closed, one by the NY Times "Outrage", and another, "Unholy Alliances" by two CBS-TV reporters. They struck me as such blatant whitewash/attack pieces, I felt compelled to take them apart, virtually line by line. That’s why it’s taken so long. However, I’m confident that right-minded readers of my book will be armed with lots of information that proves that Tawana did not perpetrate a hoax, like her enemies claimed, and which the corrupted grand jury concluded.
General Labor: Don't you have plans to play a show in England this year on the same bill as our old friend, Birchy? Please tell him he is in our prayers.
JEFF WARD: I’ll certainly tell Birchy that! Yes, The Black Bombers are opening for ElectraJets. I’ve never seen them, although I’ve heard them here in my apartment (loudly! .. as was recommended!) and they sound great. Those gigs will be fun.
General Labor: : What did I forget to ask you about and please add links to your projects.
JEFF WARD: I don’t think you forgot anything.
"Transatlantic Tales" by ElectraJets is out on Tarbeach Recordings in September.