Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Welcome to the first (unofficial) language lesson here at Mister Growl. Today we’re learning a few words that will assist you with appreciating some of the grimmest doom in New England. When first seeing the band name Fórn I made the sort of gut-level assumption that at best leads to ridicule and at worst leads to fatal misunderstandings. I thought that Fórn was perhaps a Celtic word meaning “forlorn,” or some other somber adjective. It’s actually an Icelandic word referring to a ceremonial sacrifice, meaning that in very specific, dangerous company, I could have accidentally been part of a tragic Wicker Man-type situation. Basically what I’m trying to say is that Fórn almost killed me.

And that was even before it came to their music, which is lethal as well. This is the sort of pitch-black funeral sludge that feels like the natural extension of the earliest days of extreme metal tape-trading, where primeval growls and heaviness seemed like they contained the most evil forces from musical history contained in a disarmingly innocent-looking cassette. Fórn has fused the ugly ambience of those recordings (without mimicking the notoriously poor sound quality) with the blackened sludge of Grief and Cough.

This two-track debut EP begins with “Coiled, Alone,” a lurching horror film of a song that even invokes the macabre slow-motion death metal of Hooded Menace before spinning off into nightmarish soundscape territory, complete with a shrieking wall of atmospheric guitar feedback and background vocals that sound like someone’s skin is being peeled like a grapefruit. The EP’s closer, “Dasein,” is a 9+ minute slab of nastiness that surprises with some killer grooves that could fit in a Bongzilla song. For those curious linguists (like me), “dasein” is a German word used extensively in Martin Heidegger’s writings regarding existential philosophy, “dasein” refers to a German phrase that means “being there,” or in other words, existing in a human capacity. For those of you looking for our one degree of separation between Peter Sellers and Boston sludge, you just found it. If another lifeform visited Earth and found “Dasein” as the lone evidence of human existence, they would likely believe that humans were massive, horned, cannibalistic creatures that trolled around bleak wastelands sucking the dried eyeballs and tongues from the deceased. Fórn play riffs so heavy they feel like they can’t be lifted from the floor, much like bands such as Winter or Conan, but with barbarity rarely this visceral. I can’t wait to hear more from this quintet, despite the music sounding like a fitting soundtrack for the mass-feeding of Christian babies to a black-tongued swamp creature. Did I type despite? Who am I kidding, anyone who has read this blog more than once knows that Christian baby buffets are pretty much my main jam.

Check out this EP over at Fórn’s Bandcamp and order one of their beautiful tapes: http://forn.bandcamp.com/album/ep

And go follow them on Facebook for news on shows and future releases: https://www.facebook.com/Forndoom

Monday, July 29, 2013


The Eye of the Stoned Goat is a one-day concert event celebrating the stoner/doom/fuzz rock community with 7 hours of performances from a substantial lineup of talented bands. I attended the third installment in Brooklyn, NY, following two successful events in Delaware. Here are my increasingly-unsober notes regarding the show:

Saturday, July 27th. I’m walking through Bushwick, heading for The Acheron, a local venue that specializes in loud, heavy music, where I’ve seen amazing bands like Young and in the Way and Vaporizer. I’m drinking Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey mixed with a 20 ounce Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi on the glass-littered sidewalk of Morgan Avenue. Beggars can’t be chooser, motherlickers.

If I had any doubt who Brendan Burns was (the booker/creator of the concert series), all I had to do was look for the hardest working guy in the room. This dude was hustling task to task, from putting up last minute posters to managing merch tables to setting up equipment for the next band. I hope he had a few minutes here and there to enjoy the show, because he should be proud of the talent he assembled.

Band #1: Wizard Eye. I’ll admit, I prefer extreme vocals. I appreciate a good singing voice, but I love the menace of screaming or growling. Vocalist/guitarist Erik propelled their dirty riff rock with a hoarse howl that delighted my crusty ears. Their music felt like Church Of Misery if they had spent all their time smoking dope and watching science fiction instead of researching serial killers . With theremin flourishes and solid bass work from Dave (who looked like the Lorenzo Lamas of stoner metal), Wizard Eye were on point from the first appropriate squeal of feedback. Dave also insisted on adding one shorter song to the set to use the entire three minutes left available of their time spot, and I want to personally thank him, because “On the Banks of a River” pulsed with energy and ended the already spectacular set with a bold exclamation point. Also, Erik’s dreads are approximately 94 feet long.

Band #2: Geezer. In a Geezer press release it says they “wanted to bring the evil back to the blues, the devil’s music.” After seeing them live I can definitely attest that it’s music for troublemaking and last-call saloon fisticuffs. Chris Turco’s frenetic drumming and Pat Harrington’s leathery voice invoked reckless, outlaw blues rock that injected heavy riffs with trippy delta sliding guitar and truck-driving grit. This music had cheap whiskey and siphoned diesel on its breath and was looking to settle a few scores.

Band #3: Wasted Theory. Brendan Burns plays drums in this gruff outfit from Bear, DE, and joked with the crowd that they were playing songs from their “greatest hits” album for the night. To me they sounded like if Down was covering Ram Jam, mixing 70s swagger rock with groove-concocting metal. They’ve been around for a little over a year now and I think their inspired mixture of southern metal and northern mountain rock is all the evidence you need to battle any person claiming rock is dead.

Band #4: Borracho. If you close your eyes and listen to this DC band’s heavy boogie rock you’d likely picture each performer playing with cigarettes dangling haphazardly from their lips, two inches of ash burning closer to the filter as they jam with both immediacy and a casual sense of cool. Reminded me of Orange Goblin if they were fronted by James Hetfield, but they also invoke the majestic riffs of vintage Sleep. This power trio played with a sneer and filled the room with fuzzed-out biker riffs so heavy they felt tangible.

Band #5: Lord Fowl. First time hearing this New Haven, CT band, and they delivered one of my favorite sets of the night. They had infectious toe-tappin’, head-bobbin’ rock’n’roll energy that charmed the audience with an all-out blast of heavy jubilation. Despite some technical difficulties they nailed the coked-up swagger and sex appeal of Aerosmith while combining it with the positive vibe of Valient Thorr, inspiring everyone in attendance to party and drink hard, but smile even harder. Absolutely a band to watch going forward, I could see these guys being perfect for a bill with The Sword.

Band #6: Supermachine. These guys are from Portsmouth, NH, a really nice little city on the border of Maine where I had an unfortunate vacation at the tail-end of a crumbling relationship. Despite those unpleasant memories, these guys play the sort of sky-punching heavy rock that punches your ears so hard it’s impossible to think about anything but the crunch of the guitars. David Nebbia has some serious pipes, reminding me in different songs of Faith No More-era Mike Patton or Chris Cornell. Jay Fortin also has a truly beautiful Gretsch White Falcon that I was immediately obsessed with. Even though I’m a (mediocre) drummer, I found myself whispering, “It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be fine.”

Band #7: Black Black Black. Tough to pin these local Brooklynites down, as far as how to describe their sound. In turns somber and melodic, then bombastic and aggressive, they seemed to specialize in hypnotic noise rock but showed immense versatility. Moments of post-hardcore ferocity mixed with droning guitars, they definitely showcased a deft ability to play with tone and offered a dynamic performance. They also did a shout-out to JJ over at The Obelisk, who I briefly met and deserves the attention. The Obelisk is an amazing resource for the heavy (and all it’s sub-genres) music community and I was glad to be able to tell him that in person.

Band #8: Gozu. I haven’t read an interview to confirm this, but I was hoping this band was named after the brain-ravaging absurdist weirdo film by Takashi Miike. Every song felt like a relaxing exhale of orange kush smoke while driving a rusted convertible through a desert. Marc Gaffney’s vocals float over the enormous wall of riffs, providing a sense of calm even while the music is heavy enough to crush small animals that wander in its path. Doug Sherman performed brilliantly on guitar, though I did write down in my beer-smeared notebook: “Guitar looks like it might have been made for a child, or an adult with tiny hands.” In retrospect, I think he just had the guitar strap adjusted to play the guitar higher. I was not particularly sober at this point.

Band #9: Lo-Pan. The show closed out with these dudes from Columbus, OH inspiring the first good-natured moshing of the day, possessing a few high-spirited fellas to shove each other around to their groovy riffs that are loud enough to shake the pillars of heaven (don’t they, Wang?). It’s more rare to find heavy music this appealing and approachable than it is finding a green-eyed Chinese virgin. If you haven’t seen Big Trouble in Little China and don’t understand the previous references you have my permission to go wrestle naked with the sewer monster lurking on the back of Jack Burton’s truck. Lo-Pan’s sound reminded me of early Incubus (when they were awesome) mixed with the buzzed groove of Clutch or Fu Manchu. The audience demanded an encore, and for good reason: These guys flat-out rock with what seems like effortless command. Tough to find a rock singer with a better croon than Jeff Martin, who set up in the back of the stage, behind the drums. Beginning to end, they dominated and capped off a mini-tour with Gozu by pulverizing the Brooklyn crowd.

It was a great night of rock’n’roll so loud and heavy it made my pathetic, naturally-hairless chest grow a torso beard. Many thanks to Brendan for all the work he put into the show, and to each band for delivering a memorable night of awesome performances. I am a huge fan of events that celebrate a sense of community and The Eye of the Stoned Goat is exactly the sort of show that promotes creative collaboration and camaraderie. See ya for installment number four, Stoned Goat.

Check out the official website, and if you’re lucky there might be some merch left. Those Stoned Goat concert shirts look amazing:  http://www.theeyeofthestonedgoat.com/

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Howdy, outlaws. Just received my subscriber copy of Decibel Magazine and wanted to list my articles in this fine issue. Awesome to see Erik Danielsson of Watain on the cover; briefly met him over at Duff’s Bar in Brooklyn for a listening party of The Wild Hunt. Here are the three pieces I had in this issue:

Page 16: The 2013 Decibel Magazine Tour review. While I wasn’t able to meet EIC Albert Mudrian at the show I did witness him share the stage with Napalm Death. Upon hearing this he offered me an article reviewing the Brooklyn stop of the tour. As I state in the opening line, if I knew before-hand I’d be covering the show I wouldn’t have drank so much, and maybe wouldn’t have been so obsessed with hair.

Page 34: Ramming Speed - Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die profile. Even though the band’s van broke down just a few hours before the interview, drummer Jonah Livingston was still one of the coolest, friendliest guys I’ve had the pleasure of profiling for the magazine. I caught their show a week after the interview at Saint Vitus with Valient Thorr and Gypsyhawk and they totally rip. The album’s in my top 5 of the year right now. So, so good.

Page 88: Lord Dying - Summon the Faithless review. A totally solid debut album from this Portland, OR band. Tough, muscular metal with a definite High on Fire vibe. I had a few minor criticisms but gave it a 7/10. They are touring with Howl right now and I could see them being great live. Looking forward to future albums by these guys.

Next month’s issue only has one review from me, but that means I actually get to read the issue without having cardiac arrest while searching for typos in my articles. Issue should be on shelves late next week if you’re still one of those weirdos who ventures into the world and stores and stuff to buy things. Just order stuff online like the rest of us Morlocks.

Go over here to subscribe to Decibel Magazine. At $29.95 for a whole year this is one of the biggest bargains out there. The writing staff is fantastic, the editors are awesome, and the design is sleek and filled with trippy illustrations. Definitely worth your money:  http://store.decibelmagazine.com/collections/subscriptions-renewals

Friday, July 26, 2013


I just received a beautiful neon green vinyl copy of Junior Bruce’s LP The Headless King this past week and sought out their newest material, the recently released EP The Burden. In an old interview, vocalist Scott Angelacos explained the idea of their LP’s title, saying, “Other than a general feeling of unrest, we wanted the album to feel like an uprising. A headless king has nowhere to place his crown.” That same sense of defiance surfaces in The Burden, though there’s also a streak of melancholia in both songs. But Junior Bruce’s sound doesn’t wallow in solemnity, it uses the somber platform as a launching pad to meaner, heavier riffs that pound at the gates of each song, threatening to burst through.

The EP’s title track commences with haunting guitar work teamed with Tom Crowther’s growling bass that stomps into morose hardcore before building a groove layer by layer that feels like the song is regenerating rhino skin. Angelacos’ voice has extra grit on this effort, like he’s been gargling with bathtub whiskey and alligator teeth since The Headless King’s recording sessions. It’s a great song executed with confidence and powerfully projected emotion.

“The Ocean’s Daughter” opens with a creeping riff that feels like vintage Candlemass before abandoning the dirge in favor of melodic ruminations over a backbone of mid-tempo distortion. Jeff McAlear sounds like Bill Ward on this song, with frantic fills injecting energy into the slower moments while kicking the song forward with a persistent bass drum pulse. Three quarters of the way through the song a guitar lead soars over the droning main riff and leads the song to its downtrodden conclusion.

Junior Bruce (named after a character from the original Death Race 2000) is a great band on the fantastic A389 Recordings label and these new songs verify that they’re headed in an exciting direction that develops melody without sacrificing aggression. These two songs are a great teaser of what’s to come from this Floridian outfit and definitely promises that there is more quality heaviness waiting to obliterate us in the future. It may not be the brutal soundtrack a Death Race driver would listen to in his car while tallying a high body count on the blood-slick roads, but it certainly fits the soundtrack of a post-Death Race wrestle with colossal guilt and shattered morality. And hey, that’s brutal in its own way.

The Burden is currently available as a FREE download over at Bandcamp, with links to Junior Bruce’s Facebook page as well: http://juniorbrucefl.bandcamp.com/

This is also the band’s first release since the unfortunate passing of drummer Brett Tanner. If you’d like to donate to cancer research in his name it would be a great gesture.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


While “man” be in the name of recent Relapse-signee Primitive Man, this music sounds like it was created by a malevolent force of nature, not just mortals with a mean streak. With members from Clinging To The Trees of A Forest Fire and Reproacher, this Denver, CO outfit have the credentials and gut-churning aggression to turn heads and cave skulls in the extreme metal community until the world cracks beneath the power of Jonathan Campos’ bass. The suffocating doom of Scorn, their first full-length set to be re-released by Relapse in August, sounds like the roar of all the earth’s mud and crude oil bubbling with rage, prepared to swallow us whole.

This album is one of the most unpleasant and downright frightening listening experiences of the year, crawling forward like an ancient beast pressing its muzzle to the ground to scavenge fields of bones and pooled blood. Opening with the album’s namesake, “Scorn” launches into tortured sludge that salivates on the border of funeral doom, invoking the misanthropy of Bongripper and the sluggish menace of Oak. While there’s definitely a monochromatic element to some of their pieces, like in “Antietam” and “Rags,” the album still mines the full spectrum of sound for texture. From jangly dissonance (“Scorn”) to challenging sound collages and atmospheric creepiness (“I Can’t Forget” and “Black Smoke”) and uptempo bursts of crust (“Stretched Thin” and “Astral Sleep”), Primitive Man possess a lot of knowledge about what nightmares are made of, and how to haunt you with them.

While doom bands often live and die by the enormity of their riffs, the strong drumming of Isidro Soto and Ethan Lee McCarthy’s hope-shredding vocals truly propel Scorn to full momentum. McCarthy sounds like the raspy snarl of that previously mentioned scavenging beast, broadcast through the thick static of a ham radio. Primitive Man may not write especially memorable songs when examined individually, but the album creates a dense, unforgettable experience that feels like you’re drowning in prehistoric tar pits, flanked by the preserved carcasses of mammoths and cavemen alike. Scorn is intense, primal, and would tunnel through the earth just to watch it implode on itself.

As mentioned before, parts of this album certainly plod and if you’re an impatient listener you may not fully appreciate the vastness of Scorn’s bleak sound, but if you’re a fan of slow-burn doom titans like Sunn O))) and Ufomammut and don’t mind a chaser of cold black bile, Primitive Man is ready to rip your day in half and fill it with riffs that could scrape the skin and religion off a dying priest.

Relapse releases Scorn on August 20th, and Primitive Man is currently touring  Go to their official website here for tour dates and merch:  http://primitivemandoom.com/

And check them out on Facebook to stay current with all band-related news:  https://www.facebook.com/primitivemandoom

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Every month I mention the newest issue of Kung Fu Breakfast for two reasons: 1) It often includes my own writing, and I’m passive-aggressive when it comes to self-promotion. 2) Even if I wasn’t involved I would read it, because the roster of talent surrounding me is staggering. I sent a few questions over to Jay Kantor, Editor in Chief of Kung Fu Breakfast, and he rewarded me with an extensive history of the publication as well as his philosophies regarding art and creative communities. I usually think the only thing “epic” in this world is the epic overuse of the word epic, but god damn does this interview earn that word. Read on for Los Angeles theater suggestions, an exploration of linear time, and the vicious defense of Yoko Ono:
Mister Growl: Do you remember the moment you seriously considered starting Kung Fu Breakfast?
Jay: That is a little bit of a story, which I actually document in the intro to the first KFB (Issue #1: Time Indefinite, available on zero newsstands but all internets) but for the Mister Growl audience I can even go further back.  In January of 2012 I was at one of my favorite eateries in the Greater Los Angeles area: DogHaus in Pasadena (Did you know that when LA was becoming incorporated, they extended the offer to Pasadena to be a part of the city of Los Angeles and Pasadena basically told them to fuck off?) with my good friend and photographer Hiroshi Clark (a friendship that is a story in and of itself).  We were both lamenting our struggles in the art world (mostly our own inability to put our work out there enough in an already over-saturated market) while enjoying some delicious burgers on DogHaus’ Hawaiian bread buns (I better get some free burgers out of this). Hiroshi started talking to me about this photo zine that he, Josh Schaedel, and Mike Lopez were working on called Sorry Danny (www.sorrydanny.com). Hiroshi mentioned that the three of them were teaching themselves InDesign, which allowed them to put it together DIY but still have the option of looking as clean as they wanted it. This conversation inspired me to work on my own zine, but I wanted it to be writing-based as I’ve always had a great love for poetry and short stories going back to my days in High School in Western Massachusetts as part of The Creative Writing Club. Our club’s faculty advisor, Gary Metras, was very hands on, giving us regular writing prompts and helping to publish our literary magazine (Turtle) from his own publishing company, Adastra Press. Around that time I had just started working with my partner Katie Brillhart, on putting together art shows as part of our collective Hi8. We have since put on two shows and we are working on our third and fourth, so I really thought that having a partner would be the key to any problem. I still do think that a support system is integral but working with Katie has been so easy that I really thought this was what all such partnerships are like. But that’s like marrying your high school sweetheart and assuming that anyone you date is going to be true love. One evening at a get-together I was talking with another Katie, Katie DeVriese (aka Toby Skulls) about this thought and her reaction was just like “Let’s do it.” Within a few weeks Toby and I started brainstorming zine names while on our way to a Crocodiles show at The Echo. Crocodiles have probably been one of my bigger inspirations creatively, maybe only second to Joy Division.  
Anyway, Toby and I were still getting to know each other and I asked her what her favorite meal is. The answer, of course, was Breakfast. For absolutely no reason, I then asked her how she felt about Kung Fu. The next few words out of her mouth would hit me in the face harder than a bukkake film: “Kung Fu For Breakfast.” Fuuuuuuck! In my mind it was decided. I started running around telling all of my friends that Toby and I were doing this creative writing zine called Kung Fu Breakfast (I lost the “for” quicker than a Catholic alter boy loses his virginity). Unfortunately my dreams were about to be quelled when Toby and I next met. She told me she was not crazy about the title and wanted to do something more serious, and you know understandably so. I started my film career making comedic work (go on Youtube and check out my student film So You’ve Decided You Want To Become A Goth) and I wound up going in a much more serious direction with my career, though I just find Kung Fu Breakfast whimsical. If you open any issue you’ll see that we have a lot of serious fucking shit but with a smile. We eventually came up this idea for The Invisible Factory. The Invisible Factory is this great concept about a factory in a generic small Northeastern town that makes invisible things and it’s invisible.  This was a concept we came up with together but I was inspired by all of the abandoned factories around my home area of Southampton, Massachusetts that really demolished the economies of entire areas around the Northeast. So we had a great concept and we were recruiting some really excellent writers and even started working on adding illustrators. Plus we had really great timing because we were able to promote the first issue at Hi8’s first show, The Selflessness of Space. Then we got to the second issue and I think that’s where things started to fall apart. I don’t think Toby and I had the same vision for things. There were a few problems and some were clearly mine, some were clearly hers, and others it’s just hard to say what went down, though I will say it was never anything personal, just creative things. I felt like I wanted Toby and I to have this real split of artists that we were both bringing in but I have a tendency to forget the dearth of artists that I’ve interacted with over the years and my own ability to really drill people that don’t claim to be artists and find out what their creative passions are. That’s actually a big philosophy I have with Kung Fu Breakfast, is that as human beings we are all some kind of artisans. Look at your neighbor take care of a lawn or garden or just the way your co-worker dresses or doodles. Sometimes the work is more tangible and something that can be put in a publication and other times it isn’t, but art is expression and I want to spend all day just encouraging people to express themselves. I’ve also found out so many of my friends secretly paint or write poetry just by prodding them. And the plethora of people that don’t think they are any good is astounding, even people that are trying to be artists professionally. So I would encourage Toby to recruit her friends and colleagues but they just weren’t there, and that’s no criticism on her, but when you’re trying to put together a roster of artists for a regular publication you have to use your resources. At a certain point she was encouraging people that I had introduced her to and that’s great but it is frustrating when you feel like it’s just your own network that’s getting utilized. The other problem is that I was going through some very difficult personal shit on my own at the time. I was seeing a girl that had a boyfriend. I know that’s a shitty thing to say and I justified it one way or another because she would talk about how big a piece of shit he was and how unhappy she was but that she needed to stay with him for X, Y, and Z. Eventually it seemed like they were going to break up and they didn’t so I told her I needed to take a break away from her and it was just messy. I didn’t tell Toby any of this because I didn’t want to burden her with my problems. But this, mixed with the fact that we didn’t have a regular schedule for our releases, caused the second issue not to come out for about two months. And this was really the issue that put Toby in the spotlight. I’m not sure if that was hurtful to her but I can certainly say if I was on the other side of things that would hurt me. Finally the issue came out and I wanted to talk to Toby about maybe having things go monthly and on a more regular schedule with specific deadlines and she said she just wasn’t sure she wanted to continue. She said that she thought we wanted different things creatively and that was true as I brought up previously. But I also felt like The Invisible Factory was more like this classy literary magazine and I wanted this punk-rock, DIY, art zine. The difficult thing was that I don’t think Toby and I have that relationship. When Katie and I want different things for our art shows we fight it out and usually realize that we both sort of wanted the same things all along. Toby and I have this more quiet WASPY kind of relationship, and it probably didn’t help that I was going through a sort of break up at the time. But, there were no hard feelings and Toby and I are still friends. I keep trying to get her to contribute to KFB as she is a wonderful writer I’m not sure we are at that place where she wants that kind of a relationship again, which is understandable. I was ready to get Kung Fu Breakfast launched right away though. The Invisible Factory shut its proverbial doors in September and by October I published the first issue of KFB.
Mister Growl: You work several jobs, in addition to editing and curating KFB's material. How much time goes into each issue?
Jay: Man, that is a great question but a difficult one to answer. As far as linear time spent on an issue (I don’t believe linear is more than a human perception by the way), I would say I really don’t spend more than three hours a month on each one, depending on the issue. I’ve really streamlined the process. The Invisible Factory and even those first few issues of KFB took me forever because I really only had an evening crash course with InDesign from this awesome illustrator Sebastien Rossouw (www.sebillustration.com). From there I really had to teach it to myself and trouble-shoot 90% of my problems. I also used to print it myself and put together each copy (the old school zine way) until my friend/KFB Contributor/Sorry Danny founder Josh Schaedel turned me on to HP MagCloud. I don’t want to pimp MagCloud too much but for anyone seriously putting out a publication that they don’t want to invest a ton of money into printing batches of copies, MagCloud is the way to go. MagCloud is really user-friendly, but I still had to learn to use that. Before MagCloud I was trying to put the zine out through iTunes as well but they’re a bunch of fucking assholes. Here’s the thing about iTunes bookstore: You have to integrate everything into the proprietary software that they use for books. It’s just insane, and then on top of that you can’t even read the books on your laptop, it only works with e-readers and iPads. Again, I have to say it’s insane. I know a lot of musicians that have problems with iTunes but at least my understanding is that you upload your mp3 file and whenever its up anyone can download the music and whatever, ya know? Well here was my experience with the iTunes bookstore. Here I am, I have my PDF done, uploaded, and the next step is that I have to wait two to three weeks for someone in the bookstore to look it over and approve it. That’s fine, I get it, you want to make sure that things are up to certain standards and that you aren’t publishing Neo-Nazi propaganda. I waited two weeks only for my publication to get rejected. I was confused because I knew I had this PDF that looked ready to e-mail to anyone and be looked at or printed into an actual physical copy. I looked at the errors and it was all this technical jargon that made my head spin. I did some research and it felt like if I used their software to put the publication together that I might avoid my problems. I did that (took me an entire day of redoing everything), resubmitted, and STILL got back that I had errors. I called customer service to ask how I could fix these problems. I wound up talking to this very concerned, sweet girl that told me she didn’t know technical things and all she could do was try to talk to the technical people over in that department. I asked if I could possibly talk to one of the experts and she told me that they don’t talk to people. Can you imagine this in any other walk of life?  Let’s keep the experts away from the clients. What a shitty business model when you already make it difficult to self-publish. I was fucking done with iTunes at that point. 
I can’t thank Josh enough for showing me MagCloud. Anyway, I used to put in a lot of hours learning, but now I’d say probably three, maybe four hours a month because I have to write an intro and I almost always leave that for the last minute. But that’s just the physical part. I’m always working on KFB. I talk about it constantly because I’ve always had the most success promotionally with word-of-mouth. I like to approach our promotion as if we are a band. People hear me say its rad as shit and then they hopefully check it out or they don’t. Sometimes I like that they don’t because in five years they will remember hearing about it way back before it became hugely popular. I’m also constantly trying to recruit new artists so I’m e-mailing or talking to people about it at events. I’m also always brainstorming new themes, artists I want to solicit for featured positions, layout ideas, and a general forward direction for KFB. You have to be proactive because otherwise you miss all of these opportunities. I met this wonderful girl Bri at an Afterhours in Echo Park from my friend Ana, but we really just met in passing. We started following each other on Instagram and I saw how creative she is. So she has a link to her tumblr, I check it out and discover that she’s an amazing poet and boom, she’s writing for KFB. I love Instagram by the way. I’ve never been that active on social media. I like Facebook for certain purposes but there’s so much bullshit you have to wade through and there’s a real negative vibe on Facebook because of it. A lot of people are getting off sites like that now in favor of more niche social media like Twitter. I’m actually not great with Twitter either. If I have a thought then I want to say it out loud, not type it. It’s super useful I’m sure, but not really my thing. But Instagram is great for any artist because you can post your photography, illustrations, paintings, and I’ve even seen a lot of writers just take screenshots of poems on the Notes app and post that. Of course Instagram is filled with some bullshit like people posting memes that aren’t very funny or pictures that had no thought put into them, but I just don’t follow those people and I don’t think people take it that personally. I spend a lot of time on Instagram trying to find new artists for KFB.
Mister Growl: Your poetry, photography, and artwork has all graced the pages of KFB. How would you describe your overall aesthetic, and your approach to creating art?
Jay: I’m a minimalist and that comes out in different ways in my art. Sometimes the work itself is more minimal like a lot of the drawings I do. There are really two steps to my approach for any kind of work I’m making. The first part is the DIY nature. I love found materials and using the resources I have at my disposal. I try not to invest too much money in art making because there are so many tools everywhere, except 16mm. I have a special relationship with shooting 16mm (as does almost any experimental filmmaker) so when I have the money I will definitely spend it there. But the found materials will often dictate the kind of pieces that I’ll make. I found a piece of scrap leather from the fetish shop that I work at and was really inspired by the shape of one angle on the material. Latex is also a great material to draw on. I’m not trying to be a cheap ass but I’m an artist living in LA on a budget and this is a pricey town to live in. When I was in Ithaca $650 a month would get you a big fucking house, here you’re lucky if you get a shitty two bedroom that isn’t in an area where you’re going to get stabbed. That’s any major city though.
The second approach I take is really more of the cerebral one. The brain is very powerful so a lot of times I just think about what is a central element to what I want to make and I will spend days, weeks, months, years if need by just sort of meditating on a phrase or two. I let different parts of my brain figure it out while I go smoke a bowl. Let’s talk about drugs for a moment. Drugs are not necessary and there are a lot of them that I would never recommend, but if you’re trying to expand your mind and you’re not smoking at least the occasional bit of weed then I think you are missing out, unless you’re straightedge. I don’t agree with the straightedge lifestyle but it seems to work for a lot of people including my fucking rad roommate Antoanet. But seriously, if you drink beer and say, “Well I don’t smoke weed” then I just think you’re silly. Alcohol is a dangerous fucking drug. Alcohol is highly addictive and the social pressures to drink in our society are tremendous. There are articles that say drinkers have a much higher success rate in business interactions than non-drinkers and I completely understand why. There’s a large contingency of Ithaca graduates that live in LA (I have to believe that we are the largest group of non-LA film and television industry graduates that come out here) and these guys do so much of their networking at the bar because they drank in college together so that’s where the bond is. I’m not saying we should get rid of alcohol, I’m just saying that we need to be realistic in our society about the role that alcohol plays. Drugs of any kind can be hugely detrimental when factoring in the major mental health problems that go unaddressed here in the United States. It is significantly more socially acceptable to be wasted at a bar than it is to see a therapist. Try it, go to your job and tell them you got hammered last night. Then wait a while and tell someone you are seeing a psychologist. Figure out which one gets you dirty looks. What were we talking about? Oh right, so transformative is a word that I always have in my head. I learned pre-production from my days in film school and inside the mind can be where 90% of the work happens and then the other 10% is execution.
I think my writing is a little different. I tend to just write. I suppose I draw that way too though. I love language. Most of the time I have zero idea what I’m writing about and these phrases or narratives just pop in my head and are seemingly not connected at all. Eventually I find my way and figure out what my brain is communicating to me. When I have too much of a concept of where I’m going everything just tends to feel forced. I want all of my work to be organic.
Mister Growl: You're approaching KFB's one year anniversary. What do you have planned to celebrate?
Jay: I have a few things planned but some of it is going to be a wait and see kind of thing. Issue-wise the one year anniversary will be a tribute to The Invisible Factory. Most of our audience wasn’t around for this so I’m hoping its something that everyone will embrace since it’s very special to our origins and me personally. I also think if done right that there’s a political edge to that concept. I don’t try to push politics on our staff but I like when we get active and I think as young people it’s important to use our voices. In general I’d like KFB to regularly have a political edge. We are just about to put our Feminism issue and I’d like to do a political issue around the next major election. But other than that I think we will probably keep plugging along. I’m really happy with where we are. There isn’t an issue that we’ve put out so far that makes me cringe in any way from Issue 1 all the way through now. The only difference between then and now really is that we stopped doing two page spreads and learned to embrace color (which has a lot to do with me switching from printing it myself to using MagCloud). I’m also playing around with a few ideas including possibly doing a Yearbook highlighting all of the artists in the first year. A few people have suggested to me an art show but the problem is that our artists are from all over the world. That’s actually a funny thing because we get labeled as a Los Angeles-based zine, and we are, but we have artists that contribute from all over the United States including New York, Florida, Oregon, Washington, and even outside of the US as far as New Zealand. This isn’t to say that our LA artists wouldn’t love to do an art show but a show requires a lot of planning. I think what will happen eventually there is we will do one but until then I’ll just continue to use my incestuous relationship with Hi8 to promote KFB and KFB artists (my partner Katie Brillhart is also a KFB artist). The anniversary issue comes out in October though and I plan on doing a Jiu-Jitsu Brunch (the KFB supplemental reader) for Halloween. Halloween is a big favorite amongst the KFB staff so I think that’s going to be a rad. Personally I will probably smoke a bowl, take all of my copies of KFB, and swim through them a la Scrooge McDuck.
Mister Growl: Each monthly issue has a theme to challenge and inspire the artists. Could you give us a sneak peak at some of the upcoming themes?
Jay: Sure! We are just about to release “Yay! Vaginas! A Feminism Issue” which is easily turning into one of my favorite issues. I mentioned before that I wanted to get more political and I think this is really a major step in that direction. We previously got somewhat political in Issue #3 “Fuck Off!” and again with our first Jiu-Jitsu Brunch: 4th of July 2013. Oh, so Jiu-Jitsu Brunch is the title for our supplemental issues, which we just launched. Basically I want to keep KFB to being one issue per month, twelve issues a year, but we have these extra things come up like holidays or themes that are more geared towards recruiting specific artists rather than the whole KFB staff and I wanted to sort of have a distinction between the two. Christof Whiteman (who is a brilliant artist as his brother Sean and they both are regular contributors of mine www.whitemanbrothers.com) e-mailed me at one point and in the subject he put “Jiu-Jitsu Brunch” and I loved that play on the KFB title.
In August we will pay tribute to the most personally inspiring band for me, Joy Division in “Your Confusion, My Illusion”. This is only our second tribute issue (the first was Issue #2 “Not A Way To Make A Living: A Tribute to Kurt Vonnegut”) but it’s something I want to do on a semi-regular basis. September is “Adult Renditions of My Childhood Art”, followed by the anniversary and Halloween issues in October. November is “I’m Sensitive” and then we are going to finish out the year with the EPIC “Star Wars Christmas Redux”. I have no idea what the staff is going to do for that but I have to think that the majority of our staff are Star Wars devotees so I’m excited. I have some of the themes for next year set but I won’t let the cat out of the bag completely.
Mister Growl: If you could recruit five artists of any medium to contribute to KFB, dead or alive, who would they be?
Jay: Fuck dude, there are so many good answers to this. Honestly there are a lot of artists that I know personally that just aren’t really available to contribute so I’d say some of them but if we are sticking to sort of more well-known people then I’d say:
1.       Yoko Ono – My Dad is a huge Beatles fan so I was really raised on this idea that Yoko Ono was just a weirdo that broke up one of the “greatest bands of all time”, but then I read Scott MacDonald’s Screen Writings (a collection of scripts from experimental filmmakers) that has a section on Yoko Ono’s “Mini Scripts”. These are amazing pieces of writing and really what made me rethink my perceptions of the conceptual. One of the scripts (“Film Script 3” from Six Film Scripts by Yoko Ono written in Tokyo in 1964) reads, “Ask audience to cut the part of the image on the screen that they don’t like. Supply scissors.”  I’m sure I’m going to get a ton of shit but that to me is better than the entirety of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I don’t think the individuals of that band are given nearly enough credit. I’m not a Beatles fan with the exception of the early poppy stuff (I love “I Want To Hold Your Hand”) but George Harrison and John Lennon were both geniuses. No disrespect to Paul or Ringo who are both talented in their own rights.  The Beatles to me are overrated and Yoko Ono gets labeled a weirdo. Go figure.
2.       Charles Manson – Listen to “Look At Your Game Girl” and tell me that it doesn’t just hit you harder than a 2x4 to the solar plexus. Maybe I just like the social misfits of the 60’s and 70’s.  It’s really too bad that Charles Manson had to turn out to be a psychopath because I could honestly listen to his music all day. “Garbage Dump” is another amazing song. Manson as an artist was also a real minimalist. What a smart guy too. To paraphrase The Dude, Manson isn’t wrong, he’s just an asshole. Probably would have fit in great on the KFB Staff.
3.       Juliana Spahr – I still haven’t read her last book of poetry but this woman made me 1000% rethink the way I write poetry. When I read Fuck You-Aloha-I Love You I couldn’t write again for a while. I felt like I didn’t know how to write. That woman loves cadence the way I love language so I think we are simpatico.
4.       CM Punk – Ok, so this is the moment where we talk about how I have loved Pro Wrestling since I was a kid and I still watch all of time. Watch a promo by Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Raven, or Mick Foley and tell me it’s not poetry. Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, and Bret Hart all have amazing autobiographies that are beautifully written and long. Bret Hart’s book is over 600 pages, Jericho has two books with a third on the way, Foley has four autobiographies and has since moved into fiction. There are a lot of Pro Wrestling books out here but the difference is that those guys didn’t use ghostwriters and still wrote compelling fucking shit. And this is with nobody expecting them to do anything artistic. Jerry “The King” Lawler did fantastic work with Andy Kaufman in the 70’s and he’s a highly talented illustrator. Bret Hart draws as well. That being said, I’ve never really mixed much of my love for wrestling with my art until CM Punk. For those of you who don’t know, CM Punk is a straightedge punk kid from Chicago that had constantly been told what he could and could not do in Professional Wrestling and he has defied all of those odds and kept true to the man he is. I find that very inspiring. He’s punk rock and as far as I know he doesn’t play an instrument. His promos have emotions and a strong narrative.   When WWE wanted to put out one of their standard DVDs on Punk he took creative control and made the best documentary I have ever seen that company put out. I have legit watched this thing on Netflix three or four times. It’s streaming, go watch it now (I’ll wait). I would love to see his writing or who knows, maybe a painting, spoken word? We know the guy can talk. This dude is punk as fuck and making money while he does what he loves. Also, his entrance music is “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour. I mean, c’mon. Awesome.
5.       Mike Mignola – I was trying to think of a visual artist that I really like and I’m sure there are a million famous painters I could have said, but fucking Mike Mignola’s artwork is hands down my favorite. Maybe that’s the comic-geek in me coming out. But definitely Mike Mignola. Mignola integrates elements of Noir, German Expressionism, Pulp Fiction, Nazi and Russian occult shit, African folklore. This man. I hope to meet Mike Mignola someday and just gush. I don’t really gush to famous people but I would gush to Mike Mignola.
Honorable Mentions: Ian Curtis, Robert Rauschenberg, Michael Snow, Hollis Frampton, Roman Cieślewicz, Sadie Benning, and Deborah Stratman.
Mister Growl: You've lived in Los Angeles for a while now but grew up on the East Coast. What's your impression of LA's music and art scenes?
Jay: I have lived here since 2007 and I’m still not sure if I totally get it. The scenes are spread out and there are a fuck-ton of people involved in all of them. I mean go to any art show in LA and you will see different artists all of the time. The music scene is even more of this multiplied by a million (or at least that’s my perception). What a great city to live in though just for absorbing art. I think I’d have to draw a diagram because you have the big museums like LACMA, MOCA, and The Getty then you have a bunch of smaller museums like The Norton Simon in Pasadena or The Getty Villa (which is free but you have to make an appointment), tons of galleries like The Museum of Jurassic Technology, The Punk Museum, La Luz de Jesus, NerdMelt in the back of Meltdown Comics, Hyaena Gallery, Rafa’s Lounge, Wonderland, those are some of my favorites but even then there are a million more just in LA itself and if you’re willing to venture out beyond town there’s a ton more. Hi8 did our first show The Selflessness of Space at a place called Museum & Crane, which our friend Caryn runs out of her beautiful house. Popup shows are springing up everywhere around town. Then there are three of four theaters that show independent films and prints of classic film. Every summer Cinespia puts on screenings at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Oh and Hollywood Forever does shows. I saw The Mountain Goats play there inside of The Masonic Lodge, which is exactly what it sounds like. I’m fascinated by the Freemasons so that was super chill. I’m telling you the music scene becomes even crazier than the art scene at times. On any given night you can see amazing bands play at bunch of different venues. Not just different venues but different kinds of venues. Backyard shows are becoming popular, there’s great concert venues, club venues, bands will play at restaurants, and then we are really lucky because KCRW always sponsors a ton of free shows throughout the year. In the last year I saw Geographer, Cults, Lord Huron, SoKo, Best Coast, and The Psychedelic Furs all for free, and those were only the shows that I went to. In the summer you could just go to free shows probably every day of the week. We didn’t have that in Massachusetts (or at least not bands of that caliber). It’s inspiring. Bunch parking is a bitch.  We need way better and safer public transportation in this town.
Mister Growl: Do you have any personal projects currently in the works?

Jay: I do. I’m a hustler. I always have a few projects in the works. My mind is always on the next issue of KFB and what I’m personally going to create. I feel it’s my duty to myself to contribute to every issue because part of the reason I started doing this zine and the art shows was to promote myself as an artist. I’m working on a new experimental film series with women portraying fictional goddesses in these sort of video portraits. I’m gearing up to write Part 2 of my book The Impossible Task of Knowing. And then I’m always just sort of working on art for KFB. Oh!  And I’m starting to get into editing books for other artists. I’m also starting to work with Kristin Trammell (www.beastlyoracle.com) on a few projects. I’m trying to work on my more commercial side as well. I think it’s important for a self-sustaining artist to have sellable things and I think I’ve finally found my niche. I was just thinking yesterday of setting up an Etsy shop but the problem is always time. This is part of the reason I don’t believe in linear time. If we operated in actual linear time then I think more things could probably get done in a day without our brains and bodies giving up on us.
Mister Growl: And where do you see KFB going from this point forward?

Jay: Hopefully with just more eyeballs on it. I think we have a great staff and I’m always adding to that roster. I’d like to say that eventually we will be a full-blown magazine, with offices, where all the artists can get paid a salary to just make work and put this thing out but who knows. I’d be ok if we’re doing this thing in the exact same way ten years from now but at the same time I’d also love to stop working other jobs to pay the bills and focus on Kung Fu Breakfast. The problem with that when you’re in your infancy is that you don’t want to grow to resent the thing you love when you can’t pay your rent. But the artists of Kung Fu Breakfast are highly talented so I only see this thing going upward. But it’s not always about growth. The American Dream didn’t used to be about everyone being famous or wealthy, it was a lot of wanting to be comfortable and happy. I’m perfectly ok with carving out whatever niche we can. Patton Oswalt has talked about his success on The King of Queens putting him in the position where he could just tell generic jokes and have a very successful career from that but he has always preferred to do things his way and build an audience that loves what he does because they will be more loyal and rabid to all of his work, not just the big bandwagon kind of things. Rancid have had big radio hits but they still just do what they do and how they want to do it and they have a huge audience. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I’d also like to start putting out more publications. I’m in the process of putting together my first book of photography, which are all photos I took while in Seattle just last week. That should be out in about a month and then I have a lot of other photos that will eventually turn into a few books. I’m going to put those out under the banner of “Kung Fu Breakfast Presents.” I want to put out more books for people.  I’ve spoken to a few of the KFB artists about putting together books for them. I’ve said for the past several years that I want to be successful and I want all of my friends to be successful with me. Community is very important to me. I used to play the whole game of film festivals and all of these “pay this, submit that, and hopefully you’ll get in” bullshit. I think it’s disgusting. I love festivals for the sake of showing work but there are a million film festivals and I just think their practices are gross. When I submit to a festival I genuinely think I have a legit shot at showing, and I probably fall in a very small percentage of people that are in actual competition to show. But there is a very large percentage of that submission population that never had a chance because their work isn’t really up to snuff.  That doesn’t mean they don’t have hopes and dreams and they still have to pay a submission fee. And those submission fees are part of what helps the organization putting on the festival operate. Forget about the fact that the films that show at most of these festivals had some sort of a connection anyway whether it be an older established filmmaker that gets to waive the fees and just show their work or a friend of a friend. Even if it wasn’t corrupt, I don’t think competition in art is healthy. I’m more of a community guy that wants to help elevate with a support system. Competition points out weaknesses and community builds strength. That’s a big philosophy I have with Kung Fu Breakfast and no matter where we go in the future that will always be my mission statement.

Many thanks to Jay for taking the time to address these questions in full detail. If you haven’t yet read an issue of Kung Fu Breakfast you can find the issues at MagCloud here:  http://www.magcloud.com/browse/magazine/491432

Signing up is FREE and you just need to verify you’re not a minor to see some of the issues which look hidden to the general public, because there’s nudity and bad words and stuff. I have had work in the pages since issue #2 and there are a bunch of great artists that greet the challenge of each theme head-on.

Definitely check it out and go follow Kung Fu Breakfast on Facebook for updates on each issue:  https://www.facebook.com/KungFuBreakfast