Feature / Interviews
The Flying Luttenbachers

Words: Jonathan • October 16, 2010

Scene Point Blank: You're an opinionated guy- what would you say is missing in music today?

WW: I'm not "an opinionated guy". I have the balls to express my opinions unlike most people, who have just as strong (or worse) opinions but don't share them.

Scene Point Blank: Maybe "opinionated guy" wasn't the best way of phrasing what I meant. What I meant was that you seem like someone with a lot of interesting opinions.

WW: Okay. Compliment accepted! I'd say that what is missing today would be a large, educated audience for music beyond insipid, mainstream garbage. We live in a nation of attention-deficit crack babies who can't sit still for one minute. If music doesn't have that old stupid beat, they just can't be bothered. Most people are satisfied with McDonalds, SUVs, George W. Bush and cell phones. What can I say. I can't do anything about this but I can offer what I belive to be something of quality and substance as an alternative. I hope that those who want it find it. Support for real culture is totally lacking. Music itself is alive and well, however, becoming a composer or musician that believes in truly creative music is sort of a deathwish in this society. Dead guys don't make music. But boy, do we all of a sudden love their music after they die!

Scene Point Blank: You mentioned that support for real culture here is lacking- I've noticed that in many European countries, a lot of jazz musicians and modern composers who have sort of been spurned here in the States have found highly receptive audiences. What do you think about this?

WW: It just proves that by and large, American society has no use for real culture and doesn't appreciate it or try to cultivate it in any way. America is mostly about making money and the acquisition of status symbols. I don't relate to this. Europeans are generally smarter, more cultured/educated and more interested in the intellect than Americans are.

Scene Point Blank: Were the Luttenbachers well received when you guys went overseas?

WW: Of course. We're much bigger over there than we are here. Naturally. Not everyone in Europe is a crack baby with a one-minute attention span like most people over here. They'll take a minute to actually listen to things.

Scene Point Blank: Have you ever considered possibly relocating to Europe?

WW: No. I'm an American. This is my country and I live here. If things do get worse with the government and society, I could see having to move though. I don't want to, but if need be, I will. I am thoroughly embarrassed by the Bush administration and I hate what they've done to our country. Those people are rich fucking assholes and all they care about is pimping out everything in their power to gain more power and money for their own class. They don't care about the earth we live on, they don't care about the rest of the world, and they don't care about life. They are trying to enslave the poor and middle classes for their own gain. They are gradually destroying freedom in America. They're greedy charlatans and destructive idiots. I hope I live to piss on their graves.

Scene Point Blank: Who are some artists you want people to know about?

WW: Us.

Scene Point Blank: What sparked the move from Chicago to Oakland?

WW: Chicago sucks. It's an uptight, expensive void with bad weather. Everybody there is so needlessly aggravated. It was just a horrible environment for what I'm trying to do. I had wanted to leave since around 1999, but only found a place that I thought I could live in about three years ago and the bay area was it. The weather is great, the libraries rule, the people are motivated and fun, blah blah blah. I like it here and leaving Chicago was the best decision I ever made. Of course, now that I've left, people actually come to my shows. I'm glad, but that's so typical. They love you when you're dead! There are some great people in chicago, but overall, I find it to be totally null and void. The only bands I really like from Chicago are Coughs, Inshi and No Doctors (and they're moving here soon). Kevin Drumm and Fred Lonberg-Holm are good musical and personal friends. Bobby Conn's new band is pretty decent as well. I miss my friends, but I don't miss the city or scene one single bit.

Scene Point Blank: What have you been listening to/reading/watching/doing lately?

WW: I fell in love with 20th Century classical music about six months ago and I haven't come up for a breath since. It's pretty much all I listen to these days, particularly Elliott Carter, Olivier Messiaen, Lucia Dlugoszewski, Pierre Boulez, Iannis Xenakis, Bartok, early/late Stravinsky, Varese, Webern, Berg, blah blah blah. I kind of cycle through composers, obsessing about each one before moving to another. I like to get the scores from the library and analyze the compositions. It really helps me to connect with them on a higher level. Other than that, I've been listening to a comp of obscure British glam rock! That's about it really. I read books about music, mostly the composers above. I watch a lot of weird movies with my girlfriend from netflix. I don't know how interesting that is to hear about though.

Scene Point Blank: Who are some artists you feel- I don't want to say a stylistic affinity, but perhaps a conceptual one towards?

WW: A conceptual affinity? I appreciate anyone who is striving to do something progressive, with exemplary skill and effort, outside of musical trends. But then again, I really like some horrible, unoriginal music as well. Inspiring figures to me include many of the composers above, Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Christian Vander, Anton LaVey, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Jack Kirby, Hermann Nitsch, Mick Barr . . . I dunno. I'm inspired by a lot of things and people. I like weird, sophisticated, emotionally rich artwork. I believe that aspects of what I do are in reaction to society as well.

Scene Point Blank: What's up with jazz these days? Do you think people have lost the spark to push the idiom any further?

WW: I don't know or care what is up with jazz these days. It's not a concern of mine. I'm not involved in it or do I listen to it. I relate strongly to the inital few decades of activity in the free jazz idiom, but I don't really like much from the last few decades. I don't really care how or why any particular idiom "survives" - music must grow and transform, not cling to bygone notions and contexts. I don't pledge allegiance to any idiom. I mean, 2003 was the year I actually got tired of no wave!

Scene Point Blank: Tell me a bit about some of the other projects you're working on (i.e. XBXRX, Goof Ice, etc.). XBXRX scared a lot of folks when you guys played outside my school's student union office last year.

WW: Hahaha. Great! That's funny. What a bunch of wussies! XBXRX is working on a full-length album that will surprise everybody. The band has always been written off as "great live band, mediocre records", but this is all going to change soon. The goods are going to be delivered. I guarantee it. Goof Ice was just a very loosely affiliated noise band that doesn't really do anything anymore. I play synthesizer in Curse of the Birthmark and we have a whole bunch of records coming out in the near future. Those guys are really great musicians and I'm glad to be working with them. I also started a west coast chapter of the Chicago Sound called the San Francisco Sound. It's basically 10 out of tune assholes playing classic rock songs and trying to stay standing up after drinking too much. I love it. It seems like I'm going to do a project with Mick from Orthrelm and Sam from Zs at CMJ in New York this year. They're both uncommonly interesting and great musicians, so I'm very psyched about it.

Scene Point Blank: Could you tell me a little bit about ugEXPLODE? Do you release your records under the ugEXPLODE tag and license them to larger labels? What does ugEXPLODE mean exactly?

WW: ugEXPLODE is just a blanket that my work falls under. It's like my tag or something. I consider my work to be the property of myself (and my bandmates) and therefore, as far as I'm concerned, any label I work with is licensing the music. I don't believe that anyone else can claim to "own" my music and I would never deal with anyone who makes that claim.

Scene Point Blank: How did you hook up with Troubleman and Skin Graft?

WW: We were based in Chicago and Skin Graft saw us, liked us and "signed us". That was a long time ago. A while back I was looking for a label and I kept seeing troubleman's name. A friend of mine said that they'd put my stuff out in a minute, so I asked them and they were indeed interested. I like a lot of bands on troubleman, so I feel pretty comfortable with them aesthetically. They pretty much let me do whatever I want.

Scene Point Blank: How did you get involved in remastering "The Ascension"?

WW: Glenn has been coming to see the Luttenbachers for a while now. I redid the Ascension for fun one afternoon and sent him a copy. He liked it, so he put it out. I did "Lesson No. 1" - which was much harder to shine up, actually - and I'm producing his Symphony no. 13 for 100 guitars in NYC this October.

Scene Point Blank: Do you have any sort of agenda with the Luttenbachers?

WW: To create challenging, complex, aggressive music that seeks to push beyond the norm and established forms/idioms while remaining visceral in nature.

Scene Point Blank: What have you learned about yourself from your experience(s) with the Luttenbachers?

WW: Uh, that things can go as far creatively as one is willing to push it. Everything boils down to how much effort you put into it.

Scene Point Blank: What would you like to see happen with the Luttenbachers in its second decade?

WW: I would like to gain a wider audience because I believe that our music warrants it and that it contains plenty that everybody can relate to. I would like to be respected and appreciated for the work I have done.

Artist Website: http://nowave.pair.com/luttenbachers

Label Website: troublemanunlimited.com

Interview by Jon, Layout/Graphics by Matt.

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