THE LAST INTERVIEW
by Cozz Mc Throbb
Turn on the lights: The orgy’s over.
After nine years, fifteen issues, and six Blackouts, Horizontal Action is calling it quits, leaving the proverbial Reno motel room like a fat guy who beat the Blackjack table for a cool million and celebrated by coming all over the fake tits of the slut of his dreams. On top, baby!
Obviously, an interview is in order, and a tribute of sorts, to the magazine who consistently turned us on to new music hardly anybody else paid much attention to. I met up with Uncle Ted and Todd Killings to get the lowdown on why the magazine and Blackout are ending, the highpoints, the lowpoints, the sticky fingers, unwieldy bra straps, used condoms, hanging brains, and all-round uncomfortable positions we found ourselves as proud members of the Jerking Class lo’ these many years.
So kick back, unzip your pants, and stroke it, one last time, to the dirty dirty talk that follows below between everybody’s favorite rocknroll hedonists: Todd Killings and Uncle Ted.
BC: Why is this the last Blackout?
Uncle Ted: We’re not publishing the magazine anymore, so...
Todd Killings: The Blackout was always the release party for the magazine, so without the magazine, it’s kinda like doing a cancer fundraiser and keeping all the money instead of giving to cancer research.
BC: After cancer’s been cured...
TK: But not us keeping all the money. Better make that perfectly clear. We get absolutely nothing.
BC: Why is this the end of the magazine?
TK: We feel we’ve reached the end of a cycle, and we’re ready to do something else. There’s a lot of other stuff to do out there, and we don’t just wanna do one thing.
BC: What’s the cycle?
TK: Well, music comes in cycles. Always has.
UT: It’s time to move on. We made our point. I feel it’s better to give it a rest now while we are still successful, than to eventually become known as the creepy old rocknroll porn guys.
TK: We’d like to kill it off while it’s still young and good looking! To keep doing what we’re doing would get to the point where we’d be doing more than what it’s worth and what we put into it. Whereas before, it was really easy to go to shows, write about em, buy records, ask record labels for records, and put a magazine together, but its just gotten too big. Bigger than what we wanted it to be. And it’s really hard to keep it as pure and uncompromising as we’d originally intended.
UT: Too much work. [laughter]
TK: Too much work, but not the same amount of returns as before. It’s the law of diminishing returns. You don’t want a dozen donuts, you only want one.
BC: And the fun of it isn’t the same.
TK: Exactly. Now it’s to the point where we don’t even like donuts anymore. We’re so sick of donuts, even though they’re great, and they’re good every once in awhile, but it’s definitely become more of a stressful constraining thing. I don’t know why, but I think it’s because a lot of it is out of our control. It’s bigger than it needs to be.
UT: I still like donuts though. The magazine just lost the fun.
BC: It’s time to move on...
UT: Yeah, we have some ideas...
TK: We definitely have something big in the works, and we’ll definitely let you know about it, because it’s exciting and kind’ve unprecedented.
BC: Tell us about the book you’re compiling.
TK: It’s gonna be farther down the road, since the magazine just got over with. We’re gonna do a one or two volume softcover compilation of all the old Horizontal Actions, not with the same ads, but have some commentary running along side of it, with high-quality Chris Anderson and Rob Karlic photos—give those guys more of a due.
BC: You were saying there would be a CD as well, with missing tracks, and bonus tracks, hard-to-find tracks...
TK: Oh that...we haven’t given it too much thought about what it would be, but probably that.
UT: We definitely have a lot of that around from over the years.
TK: If Larry [Hardy] had extra tracks from an album he put out...
BC: So it would be In the Red Bands...
TK: Well not necessarily that, but he did say he’d be into being in with us on it. But we are having a compilation coming out on Swami. That’s gonna be a double LP, and a double enhanced CD, with video footage...
UT: But the vinyl will not be enhanced. [laughter]
TK: But what we’ll try to do with the booklet is show all the bands we’ve interiewed in the magazine, plus other bands that we liked but didn’t get a chance to interview, or someone else beat us to the interview. We always wanted to interview bands first, because that was something to look for, to know you’re picking up a magazine that has the first interviews with all these bands. I think that’s more exciting than picking up, say, Razorcake, who’s doing an interview with the A-Frames now, or Lost Sounds, even though it’s cool, but if you want to be a relevant music magazine, you definitely need to interview bands when they have one record out only or almost have the record out…that’s just the best time. But that’s one thing you could guarantee is that all the interviews in Horizontal Action were first-time interviews—even Zolar X—that was always something we paid really close attention to. That was the only reason we didn’t interview the Clorox Girls, and we kinda felt bad telling them no.
UT: I think above all, even those ubiquitous titties, the idea of sticking to bands with few releases has been a huge factor in HA’s success as a music magazine. At the same time, I feel that our niche, sex and rocknroll, has been just as important. When we started HA we were very conscious of having an angle. There are a lot of zines out there that are music fanzines and just that. HA has always had a message: the connection between sex and rocknroll.
BC: I found last night one of the first Horizontal Actions I got, and it had Aiiki on the cover with the Dirtbombs interview, the Baseball Furies and Spits interviews, and it’s funny how young everybody was, like, there’s pictures of people we know who look like they’re 13.
TK: 2001. A turning point year.
BC: So you started this in ’97. What’s surprised you the most about what’s transpired in these past nine years with both the magazine and the Blackout?
TK: We never really thought of it as being something that would be the least bit popular. We never thought it would be in glossy magazines. It sucked that the magazine got bigger than some of the bands. I was always disappointed in that, like how Time Out Chicago did an article on the magazine instead of doing one on Human Eye or whoever.
UT: Or Savage Bliss or the Baseball Furies, or Functional Blackouts.
TK: It’s like putting the spotlight on the reporters, like “Hey, this newschannel is doing a great job,” instead of what’s being reported. It was strange...
UT: ...that something about something is...
TK: ...more interesting to them than the original something.
UT: Media about media.
TK: We got interviewed way too many times. Not to say that isn’t ok now, but, it was strange.
BC: Do you think that was because you were the first magazine to interview a lot of these bands that have gone on, while almost single-handedly creating something very exciting in Chicago where there was nothing really?
TK: It did kinda seem like something that tied everything together.
UT: We were at the right place at the right time.
TK: We would have done this anyway, but it seemed like more people came together, and joined in everything and that was great. The fact that bands moved here, and other people moved here.
BC: Did you see it, branching out like it did, not just Chicago, but, I mean, it’s not to say that it was just Horizontal Action, but it definitely helped, as sort of a focal point between here, Memphis, Seattle, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Atlanta.
TK: Well we did four shows in four cities in one night.
UT: It may have been only 10 people at each show [laughter], but still, it was successful. No, it definitely went over well. There were, and still are, a lot of like-minded people not just all over the country, but all over the world, that were waiting for a magazine like HA. We didn’t take ourselves, or the music too seriously, and we didn’t bog down the mood of the magazine with ill-informed political diatribes. We were, essentially, our own audience.
TK: Since we could only do the Blackout every other issue, that was in between. We did New York City, Chicago, Seattle, and Sacramento. And they all had good bands on the bill, so it was cool; we just mailed em a couple bundles of magazines. It really didn’t take much. The point here is the whole thing doesn’t really take much: just a couple e-mails, get some addresses to Europe and you can get shit to them in a couple days.
BC: [interviewer note: this question, obviously, was intended for the Chicago Reader]: For those who don’t know, what is the Blackout?
UT: Well, it’s the Blackout because that’s usually what we do at shows. [laughter]
TK: It’s a magazine release party/way to see bands that draw people so we can use their door money to pay for obscure bands that we really like and wanna help get popular.
UT: The Blackout was always an opportunity for Todd, and me to get all the bands we’d like to see play together in one weekend. Sometimes some of these bands wouldn’t be able to play because they weren’t touring or couldn’t afford it, so we always tried to make it happen. And we were able to do that because we never expected much out of it financially, ourselves. We didn’t care if we didn’t make any money at all, because we viewed this as a promotional opportunity for the magazine. As long as we were not dipping into our own pockets, it was a free opportunity to promote our magazine. And see all the bands we wanted and get drunk all weekend.
TK: That’s always been the plan. We would always take other bands that we definitely liked that we knew drew well and use their draw to fund other bands that can’t make it or can’t afford to go on tour, like when we first brought the Spits here to Chicago and they couldn’t afford it, and we got the money from the New Bomb Turks, and their draw paid for the Spits’ plane tickets, and the Spits got paid nothing for it—just flew in, played, and flew back.
UT: God bless the Spits.
TK: We thought they were gonna fuckin’ punch our lights out about not getting paid. At the party after that show, Sean comes up, “Guys, let’s go out in the hallway, we gotta have a word with you,” and me and Brett are like, “Oh..shit..” and then they were like “Give us a hug,” and we thought they were gonna be like “Give us our fuckin’ money!” It was real nice that they were real cool about it.
BC: The first show I went to with you guys was the first Blackout, and there were maybe 50-75 people there, depending on the night, mostly comprised of locals. Did you foresee this happening, where the Saturday night of this Blackout is sold out, and there’s gonna be a line going around the block to try and get tickets?
UT: But that’s not just the Blackout, it’s the Oblivians, the Persuaders, and that lineup. I mean, who would not want a ticket to that?
TK: The Oblivians haven’t played Chicago since 1997. The Persuaders was summer of ’98. They, at that time, played the BIG HORSE.
BC: So a lot of this — back to the full circle thing — with garage rock now compared to then, and early punk rock...
UT: We were just conscious of the cyclical aspect of music. I think we also understood the climate in which we published HA. We knew it wasn’t easy to get a show here in Chicago at the time. We lived here when bands just skipped Chicago altogether, because they couldn’t get booked.
TK: But building this network definitely made it easier for everyone. That way, bands who may not know who to talk to about getting shows, in Connecticut, or Henderson, Tennessee, know where to turn.
BC: Favorite memories of the Blackout?
TK: 2003 I think was the craziest, most out of control one, with The Spits headlining that Saturday night, and the whole weekend was great. That one was the most exciting because it was the first one that seemed wild and out of control and yet nobody was getting thrown out and nobody was getting arrested. I think I fell down the stairs, too.
BC: There was something really fantastic about that one in particular. They’ve all been very good, but all the bands were just hitting their stride, and most of the bands were relatively new.
TK: That was the one Jonathan Poneman of Sub-Pop flew out for to sign the A-Frames even though they all live in Seattle and...
UT: He could see them anytime! [laughter] And the year before Long Gone John (from Sympathy For the Record Industry) flew out to record the live portion of The Compulsive Gamblers last album.
I don’t remember if Tav Falco’s five hour sound check was a good memory or a bad one.
TK: The only way we know [about Poneman] is because we sold tickets through paypal on the Horizontal Action website, and see all the names and write them down and collect the money and pay out each night, and remembering seeing Jonathan Poneman from Seattle, and sure enough. Seeing the Blackout being the number one pick of the week was great too, as finally some people outside of a small circle were gonna get their minds blown by these great unhinged bands.
BC: How about some specific anecdotes? Not even music related, but like, the first night I hung out with everybody was when Joanie and Timmy and Lyle Sheraton and Melanie all fell into the hottub together, covered in bubbles.
TK: There was always the parties Chris Anderson and Matt Williams threw with their hottub. Those parties were always pretty crazy and fun. Justin from Sneaky Pinks, at the 2003 Blackout, pissing on a Chicago cop car, and getting a photo of it, and not getting caught was pretty amazing.
UT: Keep in mind Matt farts in that hot tub all the time.
BC: I’d have to say waking up with an octopus in my freezer last year is up there.
TK: Very memorable.
BC: And my neighbor pulling a gun on the dude from Plastic Letters. It was like 4:30 in the morning, and cops had already been called and kicked everybody out, and my neighbor started yelling “What the fuck are you doing?!” at the Plastic Letters guy, and he was like, “Waitin’ on a cab, dude!” My neighbor apparently doesn’t like being called “dude,” and since he was an air marshal, he conveniently had a gun and went to go get it. Luckily, the cab showed up just in the nick of time. It wasn’t funny at the time, but my neighbor just freaked out over that party I threw. All my neighbors wanted to kill me, even Bill and Lisa in Cococoma.
UT: Kicking Mac Blackout out of my apartment at like 5 in the morning...[laughter]
TK: Mac Blackout screaming like a feral child. A feral child!!!!
UT: And our neighbors leaving for work, and Mac Blackout in the alley yelling, “FUCK YOU MAN!!!” and they’re getting in their car just watching him. Brian, there are a lot of memories that we just can’t share, even some memories I can’t remember.
TK: Not the Blackout but, there was that Geriatrix/Clone Defects first show, and they came down here with Tom Perkins, and you [points to Ted] had one of them on the ground just yelling, “GO TO SLEEP, MAN!” [laughter] And that was the first they were ever here, and the Clone Defects were all real well-behaved, and those other guys were all out of control bonkers.
UT: The only time our apartment would ever be cleaned was when somebody else stayed there. Pick up the beercans and everything else.
BC: Ryan and Wendy [Monitors] did that for me 2 years ago when I lived in that back apartment, after that same Blackout afterparty, and having to work the next morning, they even mopped. I hadn’t even mopped since I moved there.
UT: It’s such an elaborate way to get your place cleaned, but it works if you have the right guests.
TK: But the Pagans last year was definitely a huge accomplishment. Just by the fact that we could take a band like that that doesn’t even want to tour or even play shows. That was definitely a really cool thing to see, even if some people didn’t like it, I still thought it was definitely great.
UT: It was the Pagans!
BC: I had this attitude that they played everything I wanted to hear, and by that time, I was so exhausted.
UT: Everything you wanted to hear, and then “Gloria.”
TK: Can’t forget “Gloria.” He called Them a Chicago band. He confused Shadows of Knight with Them.
BC: It’s an Irish town.
UT: They were pretty far in the tank after spending the day at the Cross-Town Classic, but they played an amazing set. I never thought I’d get the opportunity to get to see the Pagans, let alone help accommodate it.
BC: How about any favorite memories of doing Horizontal Action?
TK: Probably the coolest thing about it is that we can look back and literally have a visual diary of eight years of everything we did all the time.
BC: With the show listings...
TK: Yeah, just for personal use it’s an invaluable thing like “Hey, I was at this on this day...”
UT: When we can’t remember what we did for any of that time all we have to do is open an issue.
TK: And a lot of people can use that as well because a lot of people were at the same things. But what else...oh, getting a press pass to go to Naked City. Getting to get behind the gate.
UT: What about the prostitute photo sniping we got into?
TK: Yeah, our prostitute photo shoot for “How to Score with a Whore,” and we had REAL CHICAGO STREETWALKERS THROWING THEIR SHOES AT THE PERSON TAKING THE PICTURES! I mean, literally getting in a fight with a Chicago streetwalker for taking pictures. Some of that stuff, you know...
BC: Somebody came after you when you were taking the pictures?
TK: No, it wasn’t us. It was one of the guys we went to college with.
UT: One of our field photographers.
TK: One of our photographers who would hang out on North Avenue, basically before they got the hookers out of there. He would run up as close as he could and get the photos and take off and run.
UT: Totally like the Crocodile Hunter, but way before.
TK: They would be in a van, and get as close as they could, and speed off. In the back of the third issue, is a picture from the beginning of that time period...why don’t we just get out the memory book...
[Todd gets out the photo album: pix of the staff with Ron Jeremy]
TK: We’ve met Ron Jeremy so many times. Ron Jeremy? When he sees us? If he’s talking to somebody else, he’ll like turn to us and [does an imitation of Ron Jeremy waving in recognition]
[Looking through the pix...drunken shows, drunken parties, Andy Dick at Naked City, Billiams and Jered posing with sloppy nudist women, etc...]
BC: [interviewer note: Clearly, the next 2 ?’s are for TB] Tell about the research and rediscoveries you made when you did your article about early Chicago punk rock.
UT: That was one of the cooler things we did. We spent a lot of time at the Library here looking though old Chicago Readers and other papers trying to get the feel of the bands that were around at the time and the venues they played. We discovered that the Harold Washington Library has got all these really cool copies of local fanzines from the late 70s and early 80s. We photocopied all of them and read them from cover to cover. I think that is what really set the ball rolling. We found all kinds of contacts just from previous
ones we had. It was cool meeting all these people and watching their eyes light up when we would ask about something we came across that they had nearly forgotten over the years. For a while it felt like the more we learned about Chicago punk, the more we realized we needed to know. By the time it came to write the article, we decided we could even do a two-part article because of the heaps of information we came across. We
certainly were introduced to a lot of music we hadn’t heard before. Going into
the article we knew that there was more out there than just Naked Raygun
and we were pretty excited to find out what that was. I think also, at least for me, it really put things in perspective as far as what Todd and I were doing. I remember thinking that probably 20 or so years down the road some one would be asking us about the music scene here in the mid-90s. It kind of made me feel insignificant, and yet part of
something bigger at the same time. It was very cool.
TK: Yes, that was probably the most scholastic article we ever did, and we really had so much information and photos, we could have done a book on it. Brett photocopied all the Gabba Gabba Gazette and Coolest Retard issues at the library, and that was a great insight into the local mindset of the time. The whole La Mere Vipere scene and the mob-grip on local venues really opened our eyes as to how and why punk did/didn't happen
here and it was really a great learning experience. All the smaller circles we came across (Disturbing Records on the southside with the C*nts and Meaty Buys, and the suburban stuff like Negative Element, Mentally Ill and Epicycle, etc) were really exciting to hear about, and we got to meet a lot of very enthusiastic people who were really helpful. Going to the home of Ellis Clark (Epicycle guitarist) and showing him the Killed By
Death album with their song on it was great, too. He was a really informative guy and showed us old films of the band on an 8mm projector in his living room, and pulled out all kinds of old records and acetates, and zines. After combing the interviews, it seemed like all the people who knew what they were talking about all spoke with reverence about one particular band: Silver Abuse . They were a pre-Naked Raygun/Big Black
noise-punk 'band' that started the first punk riots at shows in Chicago and had the most offensive songs. The 'holy grail' of the article was learning about the Silver Abuse '77-79 demos that never turned up, but from several people's stories, they were the most vile, troublemaking, degenerate punk band in the city during the early punk years.
Apparently very violent sounding and nothing like the tamer female-fronted stuff that turned up on the Busted At OZ comp or their later 7". Hopefully someday we'll track down Paul Chabala and those recordings.
BC: So what the hell was up with that Mentally Ill interview?
UT: That sucked. We were so excited to have found them and as far as we knew they were the real deal. I remember thinking that this interview was going to be the branch that broke the dam in a way. Whenever early Chicago punk comes up, Mentally Ill are one of the first bands anyone mentions. They’ve always seemed mysterious. Lots of people knew of them, but know one really knew anything about them. When we got the interview back though it was another story. There was literally nothing useful in there and was a complete waste. I always thought it was pretty funny that the one time we wanted serious answers in an interview, we got the usual type of answers we get to our usual not-so-serious interviews. Actually, that’s probably the coolest way they could have done it, to remain this mystery. Finding out that they became a dentist or something probably would have ruined it. It was like we became victims of our own irrelevant way of interviewing a band. It was pretty cool to see it made their liner notes when the Alternative Tentacles reissue came out.
TK: Yep, we considered it unusable, and didn't think we'd ever even use any of it for the article. Mike Fitzpatrick from Headache City worked with one of the relatives of one of the band members and hooked us up with them. Just goes to prove you can have a 'band' that writes a few great songs but never even plays a live show and still be more well known than all the other bands that played out constantly. It's funny how shit
works out like that sometimes.
BC: Which came first: Wanting to cover music, or wanting to get free porn?
TK: We just wanted to do the music end of it, and Harry wanted to cover the porn because he was superknowledgeable about all the stars and everything, to the point where he imitated an adult-industry insider, and that was the sex angle, the joke that this one guy who writes for Horizontal Action used to hold the lights for Electric Blue back in the 80’s. His name is Larry Loudmouth and he’s this big fat guy who judges wet t-shirt contests now and he’s really bitter at all these pornstars and he would say things like, “I’d give this movie a great review, but that slut still owes me twenty bucks.” Just make it like hilarious “insider” remarks that were completely misunderstood by some people.
UT: We took that idea and built onto it the concept of having a somewhat informative magazine, with a fictional staff. It was a way to give the magazine an extra dimension, and to create personalities within the reviews. That’s where Sir Lord Shitshisshorts, and Howie Felthersnatch came from.
TK: Of getting the two together.
BC: That was Harry’s idea?
TK: We wanted to do a magazine originally, but when Harry introduced the idea of putting a sex angle into it also, that’s when it gelled together. We didn’t really do much with the adult industry aside from doing a couple interviews. We hardly mailed any issues to them.
UT: We really didn’t want to focus entirely on the adult industry, because we knew that that wasn’t our audience. Our audience was music, more specifically, rockn’roll fans, who had a sense of humor.
TK: We weren’t about that part of it at all. We only went after record labels and bands because that’s what we did already. The whole adult/porn angle was Harry’s thing to begin with and it wasn’t until later that Ted started some reviews too, and it was all stuff that we got for free from a friend downtown who gave us free rentals.
BC: But the beginning of the magazine was about the two though.
UT: Todd and I for awhile, we were like, wanting to do a music zine, bouncing around names and stuff, and Harry had the idea of doing a music zine that did pornos too. From then on, it was sex and rocknroll. And after thinking about it, it was this obvious thing that nobody had really thought to talk about, this chocolate and peanut butter, nobody had done before.
TK: Like nobody had done a zine all about drinking and cigarettes, and that’s totally a million dollars in advertising money right there. You’d be up to your ass in all this money from advertisers, and all you’d have to do is write a couple articles about how much you drank and how many cigarettes you smoked.
BC: Did these connections of rocknroll and sex occur to you more and more as the magazine went on?
UT: Of course it did. You can find aspects of sexuality in every form of music, art, and pretty much every other corner of our lives. It is the single most important thing we do as a species. But in rockn’roll music, sexuality has always had a more fun-loving, less serious tone to it. We tried to exploit that.
TK: The funniest and best interviews I ever read about bands were where they talked about their hilarious sex exploits. The Dwarves interviews and stuff like that. Nobody wants to read the same old interviews about “Who are your influences” and...
BC: That’s the one thing I never understood because I always thought your interviews were the best because they were so ridiculous and funny and brought this side out of everybody that was so much better than influences and “How’s your tour going?”
TK: The idea was to put the bands in a position where they can’t take themselves seriously. That way, it makes them more realistic.
UT: And it’s a lot more fun.
TK: And it comes off better that way in print the way some things don’t translate well into print. But when you got some dorky anecdote about why does your band play the same note thirty times in a row, and the answer is “I don’t know how to play very well” that’s a good way to get to that answer.
BC: It does seem very obvious, and yet there’s all these pathetic souls who take you to task for having the nerve to link sex with rocknroll. What are your thoughts on that?
TK: It’s a new kind of conservatism that has taken hold in these last three to four years.
UT: It’s not the 90’s anymore.
TK: It’s that you can get so far liberal, you’re conservative. We’re so far past the Clinton Administration, that blowjobs are now super-dangerous.
UT: We went from our President, banging a woman with a cigar and getting a blowjob. The climate for that sort of magazine has changed.
BC: I heard he was eating a pizza too [laughter] and working the phones while doing everything else. There was somehow in the testimony that she said he was eating pizza and conducting business. Multi-tasking.
TK: The Clinton Administration I think was a whole different time. You could really do things different and it really didn’t seem...it definitely wasn’t the climate — the super PC attitude hadn’t quite taken hold...you could walk into Quimby’s [fantastic zine store in Chicago—check it out between shows at the Blackout], and some of the stuff was a million times worse than Horizontal Action.
UT: Remember FUCK?
TK: There was a magazine called FUCK. It was like my God, if you touched it, it would burn your hands off, it was the most offensive thing.
BC: I remember that.
UT: It would take a year off your life looking at it.
TK: And we’d look at stuff like that, and it made Horizontal Action look like a Cub Scout journal. We saw stuff like that, and there was this thing we had an idea for, and then there were zines out there like Answer Me! and FUCK and they were miles beyond what we were doing and what they were doing, and they were getting away with it and we just thought then that it wasn’t so bad, that we could do this too. We just thought that what we were doing in that climate wasn’t as bad as people made it later seem. Especially when it was all done underhandedly and as a joke to begin with. The common misconception of sexism in Horizontal Action was that this was meant to arouse when it wasn’t really meant to arouse anyone. Ultimately, the interviews aren’t meant to arouse, and the photos, there’s usually something we think is funny. The first issue had a picture of a fisting scene with the caption “Gimme back my car keys!” That was in Reckless Records and everywhere.
BC: And also it just takes one person to get upset and ruin it for everybody.
TK: It’s like if you call your alderman to complain about wanting a stopsign at an intersection. There could be 30,000 people in your precinct who don’t want a stopsign, but you’re the only one who calls, and if you keep calling, you’re gonna get a stopsign. You get this minority rule just because there’s so many people out there who don’t care and don’t call and say “Hey, I’m for this!” It doesn’t mean they’re against it.
UT: It’s not like sex and rocknroll is some new thing. We always made it a point with the cover of each issue, for the readers, or potential readers, to be able to tell what sort of magazine HA was just by looking at the cover. You can judge HA by its cover! If a magazine has a lead-in that reads “How to Score with a Whore” and you are opposed to that, or don’t have the sense of humor that would think that is funny, then why would you give it the time of day? The whole Reckless records thing didn’t surprise me. I thought it was silly that there was someone out there wanting to save the world starting with a newsprint magazine with a pair of nuts on the cover. And the idea of an independent record store out there that didn’t understand what we were doing, but Tower, Barnes and Noble, and Borders did. Is that irony?
TK: Yes! Remember irony is in style. We could go into the record store and go “Hey, this is a racist heavy metal group,” and this is an anti-semetic record and I could say I’m gonna stop coming into your store if you keep carrying this, and they would probably bend. That’s all it takes. Someone to complain. At the same time, everybody else who sees it for what it is knows that it means nothing.
UT: And probably thinks it’s funny.
TK: Yeah, that part of the magazine is so extraneous to the magazine itself. Even though it’s tied into the interviews, but that’s why we’re here. To procreate the species.
UT: And the rocknroll, baby!
BC: And it’s so obvious. Rocknroll is even a slang term for that. And something that’s fun, something to dance to, and clearly, Horizontal Action has a clear connection to old rock magazines, and porn magazines, with names like “Howie Feltersnatch” and all that. It’s so obvious. Are you surprised when people get uptight about that?
TK: It’s so few. Seriously, it’s probably like the girl from Empty Records a while back wrote a letter about not understanding why we do this, and me writing her back. We eventually reached an understanding. I just had to explain it more, and break it down. You can’t just read 1/3rd of an article and expect to understand. A lot of times people just skim over things and don’t really pay attention to what it’s really about.
UT: Most people who had a problem —which wasn’t very many— didn’t read it all. The point we were making was that rocknroll is a celebration of sex. So is fisting. [laughter] We’re just making a joke about that fact. Linking Chuck Berry and The Dwarves. They’re doing the same thing.
BC: Do you see all of this as being kind’ve like...the pictures, and the shows you set up, are all about having tons and tons of fun. Like your pictures of me with my nuts hanging out and playing drums, it’s all of us at our best/worst. Do you see this as being part of this wider conservatism tied into...like, I stopped going to shows when I moved here, which is the big reason why I didn’t meet you guys until 2001. When I first moved here, I was so bored, because people just stood there, and I’d try to have a really good time and dance, and everybody looked at me like I had the fucking plague.
TK: Chicago’s always been known as a bad town for bands to come through because nobody acted like they were interested. Back when before I moved to Chicago in 96, going to school in Bloomington/Normal and getting into these bands, all the bands would go to Bloomington/Normal and not Chicago, because a. nobody came out to shows in Chicago because nobody was into it, and b. nobody tried to get people. There were some shows at the Lounge Ax and Empty Bottle here and there, like Bottleshock, but it was clearly a more indie-rock based town, that was like a circuit of bookers who wouldn’t take chances on other bands. There was the Fireside route, but you had to wait for months. The whole city wasn’t accessible like it is now. Like now, it’s easier.
BC: Is there a justice to that now, looking back, now that it is easier and the Blackout sells out tickets way in advance?
TK: Maybe it was just because it’s easier to book now. For anybody; not just us. Any band that started up tomorrow could just call any venue now and get on a show with some other band. Simple. It’s like a huge wall has broken down and this is all way more accessible than it used to be.
BC: Do you think you’re leaving at a really good point, as compared to, say, 2001, to say nothing of ’97, when it was damn near impossible for you guys to set up shows?
TK: Yeah, we’d do shows at Big Horse at first, then at Pops, because they were not only really local, but they were places where...
UT: They actually wanted us there too! [laughter]
TK: Right. They were the ones who would actually keep the show booked.
UT: They just wanted people in their bar.
TK: They just wanted people to come in to drink, and to them, that was great because we were filling the bar with people.
BC: You said in the press copies of “Celebration Castle” about the Ponys becoming welcome into “scenes they hadn’t been welcome in” before.
TK: There’s still that old guard who did most of the booking in Chicago from the early-90’s to the late 90’s, but that indie-rock stranglehold has been loosened and now bands can play without having to be associated with another indie-rock band. You can come out of nowhere, and as long as you get the thumb’s up from a couple people, you should be able to set up a show. And that’s easy enough to get that thumb’s up if you’re good, and if you’re in the mindset we're in, we’re at least willing to give them a shot. And that’s always exciting to see new bands.
UT: That was the coolest part.
TK: Yeah, that was the whole dynamic of it, and that was always the part that was more difficult when it was hard to get shows booked. And it’s not exactly easy to do house shows in Chicago, except here and there sometimes, but it’s definitely not something you can get away with anywhere.
BC: And there’s still that network of shithole bars like the Mutiny, but now the Blackout is too big for the Empty Bottle, and would have to go someplace even bigger.
TK: Now that the Blackout is too big for the Empty Bottle, we don’t want it to be any bigger than that, because that would mean it’s no longer a party with a bunch of our friends all getting loaded like we want it to be. Then you’d have bouncers and everybody getting padded down. It would be a whole different ordeal, Ticketmaster involved, that kind’ve shit.
BC: I’d see it becoming something like SXSW, where there would be people from New York and LA flying in to check out what bands are marketable...
TK: And that’s already been happening for the last couple years. Like Sub Pop flying out for the A-Frames. [laughter]
BC: Flying out, for a band living in your town. That’s just spending money just to spend it.
TK: Yeah, exactly, they sell millions of copies of records so they can afford to do it.
BC: Now for the question millions of Terminal Boredom readers want to know: Are you still getting free porn?
TK: We got so much unopened...
UT: Yeah...send us your address, we’ll send you some.
TK: The last couple bunches we got were from this company called “Kick Ass!” [laughter]
UT: We’re getting a lot of feet fetish stuff.
TK: And like vagina inflation with pumps. A lot of those lately. They don’t even get opened, like “The Same Porno Title,” only it’s “Volume 38,” “Volume 39.”
BC: We might have to contact Harry about this, but, since Horizontal Action is no more, maybe as a final service to your loyal readers, are there any new pornos that you would recommend?
TK: Yeah, we haven’t even looked at the ones we’ve gotten lately. They’re buried in a box in the closet. [Yeah right!—BC] We haven’t had them out of the boxes since we tried to sell them at the yardsale to raise money for the Katrina hurricane benefit, and Mike and Suzie’s landlord was gonna get upset if we were trying to sell porn at their yardsale.
UT: Mine’s buried in the closet too, but I would recommend anything with Courtney Simpson or Bianca Pureheart. I’ve been really into the bleached-blonde, oversexed cheerleader type girls lately.
TK: Anything that Rocco Sifreddi is directing, writing, or producing, is probably a safe bet, because he tears girl’s hearts.
BC: Among other things. I had a list of some “What’s your take on?” questions here about different pornstars. Rocco was one of them. This question is for ol’ Doc Filth: How about Buttman?
TK: I met Buttman. The last year we went to Naked City, we got to go behind the gates with a press pass from Big Brother magazine, me and Chris Anderson, and we got to meet John Stagliano in person, and he was with, I think it was Tera Deveraux, who was, I think John Stagliano’s wife? Or girlfriend — I think she’s now HIV positive, so she’s out of the biz, but she still produces or something? John Stagliano’s just like (in an Al Czervik from “Caddyshack”-type voice), “Hey, Big Brother Magazine! What’s that?” [laughter] And me and Chris are like, “It’s a skateboard magazine.” And he says, “I used to skateboard! Back in the 60’s.” and that’s all he said.
BC: He almost sounds like Rodney Dangerfield there or something.
TK: Yeah, well, he’s an Italian dude. It was kinda funny. But Buttman, yeah. He seems to really like butts. [laughter] Like that’s all he thinks about.
UT: He’s got kind of a twist on the butt tip...
TK: Right! He erased everything but the butt.
BC: He’s a real fan of all things butt.
TK: He seems like he knows what he’s doing.
UT: Definitely. It’s a good angle. I mean, Women want to love a guy who likes...enormous butts.
BC: So he’s doing a service.
UT: A good angle.
BC: [here, I tried sounding like Charlie Rose] Jenna Haze? The cover girl a few issues back? Somebody tried to interview her, and it didn’t work?
TK: We tried. We had Namella, who used to do Struts Magazine in L.A. and she tried to interview Jenna Haze for us, and Namella used to work in the adult film industry. From the article, she didn’t get a chance to interview Jenna Haze, but we ended up e-mailing Jenna Haze back and forth a couple times because she was upset that we called her a “primadonna.” [laughter] She said “You just don’t know me.”
BC: Wasn’t her closing address to the letters always like, “Still fucking and sucking, Jenna Haze?” [laughter]
TK: Yeah, that was probably the closest our staff got to the films. Namella actually went on the set, and she even got to talk about the hors d’oerves tray and shit. She actually wrote another article for AVN, the adult-film industry magazine. She was a good writer.
BC: In honor of Filthy Rich from Terminal Boredom, what is your take on the tragic death of Anna Malle?
UT: Did you know she was part Cherokee Indian?
TK: Harry would probably have a really good answer to that. Let’s e-mail him. See, that’s the era of girls that Harry was really knowledgeable of, like Raquel Darrian, that mid-90’s/early internet women.
UT: How did she die?
BC: Car accident in Vegas.
TK: Chasey Lain, one of the stars from that same school, graduating class from that time, I heard she got arrested for swerving in her car, and the police pulled her over and she’d been smoking crystal meth, and the baby that got taken away from her had been inhaling so much crystal meth that she was sick from the fumes.
BC: Aw, no way. She’s from Florida. There’s no way she’d be doing crystal meth.
A BRIEF INTERLUDE WITH LARRY LOUDMOUTH
BC: As a final service to your loyal readers, are there any new porn
starlets out there worthy of our attentions?
LL: There are some great new starlets on the rise. Most of them are from
overseas, but there are a couple of domestic ladies worth mentioning.
First is the Midwestern Raven Riley, a very excitable and filthy Indian
(as in the red "injun" kind, not the brown "overpopulated" kind). Other
faves include Tori Lane, Terri Summers, and Tiffany Hopkins.
BC: What is your take on the tragic death of Anna Malle?
LL: It's always tragic to hear about losing talent, but the sad fact is
that Anna Malle was gross. We lost her a few months back so she could
go legit, anyway.
BC: Who likes butts more: Rocco or Buttman?
LL: I'd say Jules Jordan wins with all things ass. But if I'd have to chose
between the two, since John Stagliano likes as least two kinds of ass
to Roccos' one, I guess I'd have to say Mr. Buttman himself.
BC: But anyway: What are you going to miss the most about doing both the magazine and the Blackout? Let’s start with the magazine first.
TK: Staying up all night to get it done, and having to bug people to send money, and...
TK: Then to ask people to do reviews they don’t want to do because we didn’t want to do them in the first place.
BC: Getting lots of shitty CDs from shitty bands?
TK: Yeah. Having to throw away demos from bands that are no way up our alley.
UT: Bands that obviously had never read the magazine.
TK: We couldn’t cover everything. We should have kept it leaner on the review side. That’s why we are doing something else.
UT: We are launching a website this spring. Victimoftime.com. It will be a site where a person could go on and find out where a band is playing, eventually, anywhere in the US. It will be a place where you can go plan your weekend, and read about some of your new favorite bands you haven’t heard yet.
BC: That was my next question, but what about actual good things about doing the magazine?
UT: It was the best time of my life.
TK: Yes, it was the best time of my life. We got this incorporated, we built a business around what we normally did anyway. We used stuff we spent money on anyway as business expenses to the point where we could write off prophylactics if we needed to, or Horny Goat Weed. We did an article on supplements, and we could write it off. We could even write off like this Swell Maps 7” boxset if we wanted to.
UT: It was an inspiration to us. Like, “You mean we could write off Horny Goat Weed if we write about it?”
TK: We just built it around the kind of stuff we would be doing anyway, and just figured it would be easier if we wrote about it for the magazine.
UT: We tried to take what we were into and make it work for us.
TK: And then other people get involved and it gets harder to do things the way you want to do them, and there are other people who are motivated to do things their way, but we would rather be doing something new instead of continuing with doing the same things. It’s time to do a bit of everything now instead of doing the things we’ve already done.
UT: So we’re not just the sex and rocknroll guys.
BC: You don’t want to be doing this at 40.
TK: We never thought it was going to last as long as it did.
UT: We’re not the same people we were when we were 25. We feel it’s time to move on and do something else.
TK: Everything’s changed now to the point where it’s not really needed, I don’t think. Everything’s come together more and it’s more accepted now, so it’s hard to put out an underground record that’s good and that a lot of people don’t know about, whereas the magazine was meant to take the place of the review section of other magazines that you wish you could read without having to read the rest of the magazine, and do features of bands we liked and do things that hadn’t been done.
BC: What about the Blackout?
TK: I think I’m tired of the big festivals. I think it’s too much. It’s a great way to get one band that’s otherwise unaffordable, which is the goal sometimes. But now there’s so many festivals.
UT: It’s kinda diluted. We’ve already done it and now there are so many others: the Dot Dash shows, Goner fest, the list goes on and on. And they’re all great.
TK: This is our sixth year doing the Blackout. We learned from other festivals to keep it small. That was the best part. That was the biggest complaint about the Shakedowns and all that shit and what was good about the Estrus Garageshocks and all that. Those were in a small bar, and three nights, bands that weren’t too big, and bands you didn’t have to spend an arm and a leg to fly in. Bands that would cover their own expenses and bands of the same caliber, no ego clashes. Now it’s just to the point where it’s right at the verge of if it gets any bigger it’s gonna be really annoying to us. Not just that it’s popular, it’s just...the Blackout’s gonna have a good list of bands because we’re into good stuff, I’d like to think, but at the same time, it’s not exactly what we want to do any more, and it’s more of a headache. It’s super easy to do this. We weren’t the first people to take a bunch of bands and put them on the same show a few nights in a row, and we’re not gonna be the last. People e-mail now. It’s not that hard, and it’s nice to see other people taking the initiative. It’s good to see other people doing this. It is difficult, but it’s definitely doable.
UT: Now that so many others are doing this, we don’t need to do this anymore.
TK: It was fun, but it’s not something I’d run out to do. It’s definitely stressful.
UT: Just worrying about everything coming together.
TK: All the variables involved.
UT: When you start doing something because you love what you’re doing —like music— you gotta back away from something when it starts to feel like work, and when it starts to feel like it’s not fun anymore, it’s time to move on.
TK: You can always do it again later if you want, but for awhile you need to back away from it because it’s definitely back to the law of diminishing returns.
BC: But what about May 2007, when this would have come back around...
TK: Darius is already organizing a 3 day Whiteout, which he’s perfectly capable of doing, so, that’s totally fine.
BC: So you’ll go to other events, and that’s fine?
TK: Oh yeah, but now we’re not obligated, like the Blackout. It’s gonna be nice to not have that obligation hanging over us where if we want to go to New York for the Dot show, but if we don’t want to or don’t have the cash we don’t have to...or, if we want or don’t want to go to Gonerfest, that’s fine. Or Texas. That’s the thing: there’s so many now, so you don’t even really need the Blackout. And the Blackout’s gotten this false sense of accomplishment tied to it.
BC: What do you mean?
TK: Like it’s not the end of the world if you don’t play the Blackout. We feel really bad about not having room for all these good bands to play...
BC: And you even added a fourth night.
TK: Right, and we didn’t want to have a fourth night. We wanted to have two nights. We even thought 3 was too much.
UT: Originally we wanted it to be a two night thing, and as it gets bigger and bigger, I don’t want to have to be the one that accommodates that. But it’s been the best time of my life. Every Blackout.
TK: 2004 with the Testors was great. There was just a lot of really good times. Really cool, a lot of fun, and I’m glad a lot of it got documented with the pictures and DVDs.
BC: The DVDs are fantastic. Watching them, you get the feeling like you’re almost there.
TK: Chris Anderson and Rob Karlic have tons of great photos. Now’s a good time to take all those moments, put them in a box and say “Okay, that was a really great time period.” You can do that, and then you can move onto something else, and you can always go back, and relive it, or you can always restart it and do whatever you need to do, but this is a time period, and it feels more and more like that.
UT: It was our mid-20s.
TK: Our mid-20’s spilled into our early 30’s, and...
UT: It’s time to do something else.
So them's the words, turds. For further advice on how to write-off your used condoms, titty bar thong tips, and sorority house panty raids, please visit the accounting firm of Shitshisshorts, Feltersnatch, and Drippings. You'll be glad you did. Thanks to Todd and Brett, Candy and Karlic, Harry and Billiams, Arman, Jim, and Alex.
The editor would like to thank Todd Killings, Chris Anderson, and Rob Karlic for providing all fliers and pics, and would also like to thank everyone at Horizontal Action in general for all the good times.