All Tomorrow's Parties - Jackie-O Motherfucker
Sam Frank: Sam Hunt and Ben liked Jackie-O Motherfuckerís set, and Iím inclined to agree, but, as the interview makes clear, I have my reservations. Freedom is in large part differentially definedóit usually exists in tension with structure, however complicated, though I think that it at times can have an objective character.. When you have a large group of anarchist players, like Jackie-Oís, while structures emerge, they tend to be vague ones with simplistic associations: quiet, slow, preparatory; noisy, fast, liberating. I liked some of the folk themes they played with, and I was roused in spite of myself by the energy part of their set. But it bothers the hell out of me that they indicated climax by resolving into an almost basic rock beat. Or maybe it was just that the drummer, a perfectly good player, didnít measure up to Smith, to Saunier, to Hurley, to Prescott, and so forthóand does that give me the right to complain? (Yes.)
Ben Tausig: Jackie-Oís show was, on a superficial level, a journey along the well-traveled route from quiet to loud, from wavering atmospherics to the groupís reaction to rock drums and rock noises. And that makes the music seem less free than some, including Andrew, would propose. To explain structure, though, may be to overstate its relevance, since what was important was observing and hearing unpremeditated decisions get made, moment by moment. The performance cut a tedious shape, when explained, but during the set I wasnít conscious of it. However, I do think their set is quite similar to the No-Neckís.
Sam Hunt: This was the third time Iíd seen Jackie-O. I have never seen NNCK. This was one of the most exciting sets of the festival. The room was considerably more crowded that I expected. While the twenty minutes spent meandering between tones and without melody or coherence certainly tried the patience of many attendees, the effect of this tactic was magnified considerably before an audience who had presumably never seen or heard the band before. When the payoff came, it did so in a big way, and the bliss of the setís final 25 minutes was appreciated by those who stuck it out, and those who knew it was coming all along. Clearly the ďtedious shapeĒ was considerably more apparent to me than it was to others. Also, for what itís worth, both Matt Groening and (festival organizer) Barry Hogan were among the enraptured masses. It was the only time I saw the two of them not in the middle of solving problems or engaging friends/the public.
We talked with Andrew Cvar.
Andrew: I just want to say that Iím not the spokesperson for this band. Do you want to interview me or Jackie-O?
Sam Frank: Whatever; whichever you prefer. Youíre in the band; you donít have to talk for the band. You can talk for yourself.
A: Sounds good!
SF: What instruments do you play in the band?
A: It sorta varies on the configuration. If we have guitars taken care of, Iím not going to pick up a guitar, but if thereís a lack of guitars, I will. In this configuration Iíve been doing vocals, electronics, and harmonica and percussion, basically. And melodica.
SF: What did you think of your set tonight?
A: I thought it was good. I had a good time. A lot of the time, with this group, itís not about how tight you are, or showing off riffs. Itís more about the feeling you can create between the configuration. And I thought that it definitely went to places where it was supposed to go to. I want to say ďButÖ,Ē but Iím not going to. And leave it at that.
SF: What did you think of the shape of the set? Iíve seen certain bands, No-Neck, do the same thing, start off with a noisy thing that resolves into a rock sound two thirds of the way in and then goes back down and ends with this ecstatic thing. Is that the standard shape of the set for you? If I was going to take one as model for a band like yours, with a big loose groupÖ. What do you think about that as a shape or as a standard kind of attack mode or song structure or a something?
A: Itís not really conscious that that happens, usually. Lately, thatísówhen we get together, itís not like that necessarily. Sometimes we feel like starting out small, because once again itís about creating a feeling, creating an atmosphere. A lot of times if weíre subtle with what weíre doing, then the subtleties can make us more attuned to whatís gonna happen before the set. As far as it becoming what happens with any band that you see, thatís really horrible, if people perceive us that way or if it becomes a standard. Iím not overly dogmatic about any of this, but if itís standard it just sucks. ďOh, theyíre gonna start out quiet, and then get loud, and thatís gonna be the end of the set.Ē We try to be dynamic if we can, but sometimes, because there are so many people involved, someone might take it to a particular level and youíre going to have to match that level. You know, it becomes what it becomes. I would hope that nothing like that becomes the standard, because thatís just losing the point of it, which is to do what you feel.
SF: Do you ever think about playing your set with certain almost arbitrary rules set up to give your set a different kind of shape? You donít use parameters or anything like that?
A: Thereís parameters at times, definitely. Thereís definitely ideas. In fact, there were a couple tonight that were incorporated. But itís not very rigid. And I think that everybody really likes it that way. At times it works better than others. Thatís just the nature of the music, I guess.
SF: Can you talk about any of the parameters you had set up tonight?
A: Well, there werenít necessarily parameters so much as there were ideas of sounds. Particular sounds that someone was going to start doingóat that point, people followed it with their own sounds. So it wasnít necessarily parameters so much as it was vague ideas, which turned into something else. Everyone on stage, before they went on, were like ďOh, Iím going to do this, then.Ē I went into it tonight not knowing what I was gonna do and ended up with a microphone. So thereís never really a lot of parameters set up. I mean, thatís not true though because sometimes thereís actual tunes, real tunes, in between improvising. Those parameters are set up when the tune starts. But everyone can fade in when they went, fade out when they went. It all depends on the feel of whatís happening at the time. I donít think anybody in the group tries to be overly dogmatic about any of this because itís just not the music that we do. Like I said, Iím only speaking for myself. This is the way that I look at it. For me, itís all about being up there and feeling it. I want to feel it the same way as if we were in rehearsal. To not just be up there and sort of making whatever noise, I want to be able to feel it. Feel that what everyone else is doing is also a part of what Iím doing. Becoming one little unit. You said something about the No-Necks earlier. Thatís what scares me aboutóI donít want to say this kind of music because I donít feel we have anything in common with the No-Necks. We played a couple shows with them on tour a few weeks ago, and I think there are certain comparisons. There are only X amount of bands out there that are shaking and rattling. So instantly you get put into this category. Other peopleís aestheticóyou know, their earsóI know I can listen to some music from other parts of the world and hear bells or maracas. And I say ďOh! Wow!Ē I can incorporate that into what I do. Itís not a conscious thing where weíre like, ďOh. Weíre a part of this genre.Ē I use bent electronics because I like what they can create and I like the fact that I didnít have to pay a lot of money for them. Itís not about getting overly dogmatic, but I think if that starts to happen, then the group will start fucking stuff up way harder. Not that what the media says really means anything, but I just hate the fact that something can be pigeonholed. For me, if I was involved with it, I would want to be pigeonholed as not necessarily a band so much as a feeling. Something thatís a little bit beyond a band or whatever, where you just go to see it andÖIíve been going to shows my whole life, basically, and itís really hard for me sometimes because thereís such a ritual to it. Sometimes Iíll go and see a band and be completely blown away because theyíre lacking any sort of ritual. Like seeing Trad Gras [och Stenar] just recently.
SF: At Tonic?
A: I didnít see them at the Tonic. We played a couple shows with them just before that actually, and they were amazing. They totally blew me away. Thereís a metal band from Boston, called Warhorse. Theyíre totally tight, itís really heavy music, but they totally blew my mind. There was no real preconceived idea other than just to play what they felt.
By Dusted Magazine