Chicago via Ann Arbor noise/experimental/electro musician James Marlon Magas, these days known simply as Magas,
returns to the live stage this week with a headlining gig Wednesday night (3/16) at the Bottom Lounge
. It's been a while since we've heard from Magas, so RFC recently caught up with him to get the latest info.
Radio Free Chicago:
The word on the street is that you're working on a new album...What can you tell us?
Yeah, the new album is coming along nicely. It's been slow-going, because I've been changing my sound a bit, making it a little heavier. I've acquired some new gear to help me accomplish this goal, and it's taken a while for the machines and I to get to know each other...to become one. Now that we have fused as a heavy rocking unit, the songs are coming along, slowly but surely. People can expect some heavy ARP action and showers of hi-hats. I'm not sure what label it will be on, as Ersatz Audio
is on hiatus right now, but I don't really care to put the cart before the horse--first I'll write the songs, and then we'll see about all that. I'm trying to satisfy myself, first and foremost.
This is your first live Chicago performance since last June...are you ready to rock?
Does the pope shit in the woods?!? Of course I'm ready to rock!
What can we expect from the opening acts for the show?
M: Smash TV
, from Berlin, play weird techno/electro type stuff. Their sound is very emblematic of the Bpitch Control sound. One of the guys did a lot of production for Ellen Allien's 'Berlinette' album. This is their first time in Chicago. Far Rad
, from Chicago, lay down some poppy synth jams--they have a fondness for analogue gear, and an emphasis on live action--there's always somebody singing or playing. Kero
, from Detroit, plays nice Motor City techno, very sleek and minimal. He played here back in 2001, with T. Raumschmiere, and has done stuff on Shitkatapult and Bpitch Control.
You're scheduled to play some shows in Europe in May...How did you hook that up? Do you have a large following over there?
Yes, I'll be returning to Europe in May, and I'm very excited about it. I first played at this big festival in Spain, called Festival In Benicassim, in 2003, and then I did a three-week tour last year. The tour is self-booked by me and a DJ from Brussels, Belgium, named Stel-R, who will be touring with me. The last time, I did it all by myself, which was a great experience, but I'm looking forward to having a travelling partner this time around.
Reception is pretty good, for the most part. It's weird, last time I was there, I played in a train station in Brussels, for 850 wild-ass Belgians, and then the next night, I played at a squat in the Hague, for 50 people. Both gigs were a blast! Each night, I never really knew what to expect, but it was a lot of fun. I don't really know how large my following is there, or here, really. It can vary wildly from city to city, and country to country.
I really miss your old record store (Weekend Records)...
Thanks, so do we! It was never through lack of enjoyment or enthusiasm that we stopped doing it, we were simply undercapitalized. We learned that it takes more than a couple thousand dollars to start a record store, but I guess we made it work pretty well with such limited means. If I had the proper financing, I'd do it again, in a heartbeat.
...where should everyone go now to get hot electronic German and Detroit 12"s?
Well, Gramaphone has been a Chicago dance music institution for over 35 years, so they've got lots of classic stuff. And then there's Wax Addict over on Ashland, apparently they've been getting some good stuff in. Reckless is good for older stuff, obscure classics and so forth, and you won't pay e-bay prices for it. Mail order is always a good option, as well. There's so many places...Forced Exposure, Bent Crayon, Hardwax, Clone, and you can listen to stuff on Nuloop, to see if it's any good or not.
Speaking of which, you're keeping the spirit of the store alive by promoting shows under the Weekend name...Any "Weekend Presents" shows on tap? (or any personal recommendations for shows coming up?)
We don't really have anything going right now, promotion-wise. We have to really love something in order to go through all the work of promoting a show, because it really takes a lot of time and energy. As far as shows coming up, I'm very excited to see The Tyrades
, who I've just discovered, and they've become one of my favorite bands in Chicago. I'm also very excited to see the Boredoms
. I'm sure there's lots of other stuff, but I'm too lazy to investigate all the posters, weeklies and so forth. I don't really go out very much, these days.
Anything else cooking up at the Magas laboratories?
Yeah, I did a remix for Montreal's Les Georges Leningrad
, which will be coming out Troubleman Unlimited, any day now. I also did a remix for this guy RA-X
, in the Netherlands, for his label Angelmaker. I was also asked to make a track for To Live and Shave In L.A
., for their new album, so that'll be interesting to see what they add, or don't add to it.
Any last words of wisdom for the RFC readers?
If they've found their way to your website, then they're probably doing okay without my help. No need to preach to the choir!
More facts about Magas...
Analog or digital?
Favorite Chicago Drinking Establishment:
Currently Listening to:
Bathory's 'Under the Sign of the Black Mark'
Favorite "Darren" on Bewitched (Dick York or Dick Sargent):
The only character I remember is the witch. I can't remember Dick!
If you had a pet robot, what would you name it?
Check out www.magasnews.com for the latest info on the many moods of James Marlon Magas