A few month ago I got a mail from Chris asking me if I were interested to review releases he has put out on his Detroit based All Gone label. The label and all it's bands were previosly unknown to me, but I knew and liked Tyvek and Protomartyr so I thought it could be interesting to gain a deeper insight in the current Detroit scene. A few weeks later I got a parcel, that included a 7" and a 12" by Chris' band Roachclip. Both records turned out to be two of my most impressing recent discoveries. It was therefore the obvious thing to send Chris some questions about Roachclip, All Gone and the Detroit scene. In addition to that you can scroll down and stream the new WORKERS tape compilation on ALL GONE including tracks by Roachclip, Mean Bikini, The Lake Erie Psycho Surfers, The Bibs, Greymouth, Mole House and The Offset Spectacles.
First the most obvious questions: band history? discography so far? roles and names? meaning of your bandname? other bands you play or have played in?
Roachclip is a ode to the 70’s asshole, We Started fall 2010 I was bored of doing solo gigs, and wanted to play in a steady unit, Steve and I had been playing together for years, scences our teens, all over the map kind of stuff. We got Lauren on board to do some drumming, she had little experience, kind of rushed into the whole thing, we played our first gig, two days after starting, It wasn’t that bad really, could have been worse. Then I asked Bill who I had been jamming around that with, if he’d be into playing organ, he had a clunky old home organ sitting around. He was in the last days of this awesome Ann Arbor band Telephone callers, who went on to make the k9-sniffies , Bill joined us.We recorded our first release for AA records “total dirt rock” in Bill basement on Putnam St. Shortly after recording the tape/cdr, Bill was a victim of home invasion, and was brutally beat with a Hammer, he even tried to jump out the second story window, it was messed up, hours later the police found a guy with a bloody hammer in his car and they let him go, we think the blue was in on it. So he had to move, we started jamming at “this house”. Where we recorded the 7’’ some of it was recorded while bill was away in Indonesia for 3 months, which is why certain tracks didn’t have organ. Upon his arrival back, we started to record the 12’’ we asked Heath to join on bass guitar, He previously was jamming in Tyvek, he also does sick llama, and runs Fag tapes. Around this time Steve the other guitar player was fixing to move to Columbus OH, for grad school, so bass seemed like a good way to fill in the gap. We recorded Discovery Park over the next year. Steve lives In Columbus now.
The media cover a image of Detroit that’s characterized by bankruptcy, industrials ruins, depopulation trends, decay and slow ambulances. What is life like in Detroit and what makes the city worth living?
All that stuff is true; if you get shot here you’re fucked. The city is way too huge, in comparison to the amount of citizens, plain and simple the biggest problem. It’s a catalyst for other problems. I don’t know why I live here personally; I grew up in MI maybe I’m too lazy to move. I would say I live here because it’s cheap, and there is amazing stuff going on amongst the chaos, Lots of great DIY art/music spaces, good food, kind of has a in the country but really a city, vibe I like. Plus America is a Succubus without it’s own identity. Chicago, NYC, Kansas City, its all the same just nicer frozen yogurt stands, or more outlet malls. Detroit represents capitalism and all it’ flaws, I love that.
Heath: Detroit rules! There is free beer everywhere you go. Price tags in the stores are $0.00. People on the streets skin is starting to turn green. Fires here that can never be put out. Sink holes of destruction eating the air like black holes. Everywhere is different and the same at the same time. Cops are the ones committing all the crimes and the newscasters set up the schedules. The cooperations running the advertisements on TV push for more and more insanity. Thus it is a fake death. Life must go on and sex will always exist. Detroit is a beautiful city filled with freedom and opportunity. It's not completely slow paced. It is like the forest. With cars. It is like the farm. With animals and beautiful clouds; trees and chicory. It is a peninsular state. There are mosquitoes. There are gardens and destruction. Destruction that is naturally producing gardens. Light and darkness. I don't think that it makes much difference.
As an outsider it’s impressing how many good bands are currently coming from Detroit. What’s your opinion about your local scene and which bands can you recommend?
Detroit at the moment has heaps of bands, good or bad; I will leave it up the sound cloud frequenter. It is neat that so many bands exist here, something for everyone I guess. I am kind of out of the local loop, I put out what I like in Detroit on All Gone for the most part. I’d recommend Stare Case.
I’ve compared your 12“ with Happy Refugees. Have they really been an influence for Roachclip and which other bands are important for the way you sound like?
“Return to last chance saloon” is one Bill and I like a lot for sure, we all have lot’s of tastes, I feel like we don’t talk much in the way of basing our sound of records we like though. I’d say that groups from the 80’s with 60’s kind of vibes have rubbed off on us some, Xpressway, U.K DIY, old private pressed psych records, old age/no age crew, 90’s era siltbreeze, some of that 70’s prog and opposition stuff too.
Both your 12“ and your 7“ are characterized by a very well done artwork. Who’s repsosible for it and what’s your opinion about the significance of a record’s artwork?
The Discovery Park 12’’ cover was designed by Lauren, back cover by me. The Al Pastor 7’’ was done by Travis Galloway, who does most of the All Gone artwork. I never really ponder on the significance, I own a lot of records with artwork I don’t find special, and sometimes that’s the charm. I just want to hear good music. I will say that a good cover is a nice bonus. I always enjoy Jandek covers for example. We’re all into fine art and enjoy drawing and painting etc, so when it comes time for a cover we really get excited and try to deliver, and if it doesn’t, we let each other know and start again.
I think the four track or eight track recordings of your releases are one of their main secrets. Will there ever be a Roachclip recording with a clean professional studio production? What’s the advantage of keeping it lo-fi?
I can’t say for sure, but most likely not, we don’t like the idea of paying loads of money to make your “sound” There always seems to be something hollow about it, the processes, and the intentions. We have a nice soundproof room at “this house” it’s a very accurate dry sound. That’s what we like. Recording in the basement allows us total creative freedom, and to recorded material at our own pace, I could see us having another LP out this year.
Chris, you’re running All Gone records. Please give is a quick insight of your label. What is the idea and philosophy behind the label and what have you released so far?
Travis and I started All Gone back around 2009, mostly releasing our own experiments so to say. For the first couple years we were pretty anti-internet we were freaked out on some hyper reality rhetoric, we also wanted to try to keep music grounded and mobile. A hard copy always has more substance we think. The idea behind our label is to put out bands and musicians both local and international we’d like to share with the world. We try to keep things international, there is good music being made all over that people should have accesses to.We also felt there was a abundance of hogwash cassette tapes circulating, made with little effort, so we have instilled a diplomatic agreeance between artist and label dealing with quality of the medium. Simply it’s out of necessity for us both, we spend several hours a day in our automobiles hustling Romanian food to the hungry citizens of Detroit. Neither of us have working cd players in our rides, also neither of us own ipods, my cd player was stolen in front of “this house” during roachclip practice one day along with all my burnt cds, but my cassette tapes remained.
Most All Gone releases are on tape. There’s been a revival of cassette releases during the last couple of years especially in the USA. What do you think are the advantages compared to CDs and vinyl?
Well cd’s scratch and the whole downloading thing happened, cd dimensions are awkward too, vinyl rules supreme, sound quality, space for artwork, and value. Tapes have a street level appeal, they be sturdy. The charm is in the craftsmanship of recording for tape, there is an art to it.
Which releases are planned for the future with both All Gone and Roachclip?
We have our newest batch of tapes just coming out, including the mole house 7’’. In the future some sort of wax for the intended, a greymouth tape, for sure some roachclip and bibs material, new K9-sniffies.
What do you prefer a printed fanzine or an internet blog?
At this point I check out more blogs, but totally appreciate fanzines.
Some questions dedicated to Detroit‘s music history: MC5 or The Stooges
Death or Destroy All Monsters?
Destroy all monsters, grew up listening to them, glad that death recorded was unearthed though.
Negative Approach or Bored Youth?
Negative Approach! I think every roachclip member has multiple NA shirts haha, we used to share a practice space at “this house” with them as well.
The Dirtbombs or The Gories?
Never listened to either, Index, keggs, George Edwards group, mystic seva, sproton layer, half Japanese, spike drivers , ted lucas, laughing hyenas, frijid pink, Alice cooper,bulb.
Do you have something to add?
Infact when you look through windows you’re only looking at glass.. “t.s.r”
VA - WORKERS TAPE (All Gone) (Roachclip - Not Enough, Mean Bikini - Animal, The Lake Erie Psycho Surfers - Improv #1, The Bibs - Pure Evil, Greymouth - Fake Beard, Mole House- Fast Moving Cars, The Offset Spectacles - Entering The Meat Grinder)