O PUNK ROCK AINDA GRITA “LIBERDADE & AUTONOMIA!” – The Interrupters: muito mais que o ska-punk mais chiclete do pedaço

Caí violentamente fissurado numa droga sônica bombando no pedaço: The Interrupters, banda da Califórnia que grava pela Hellcat Records, braço da Epitaph. Justo quando as veias pediam uma dose cavalar de punkadaria política e poesia flamejante, descobri nos Interrupters uma banda que é muito mais que o ska-punk com as canções mais “chiclete” do pedaço. 

Além de mestra em grudar melodias em nossas memórias, Aimee Allen é também querosene. Seus bandmates, vestindo terninhos à la The Hives, são uns carequinhas com TDAH, que em seu hiperativo transe puxam ao extremo o andamento e a pulsação rítmica das canções. Querem ser serelepes como foram um dia Little Richard e Chuck Berry, dois dos Pais da Matéria: rock and roll, um das artforms of the 20th century. Secundada pela trupe, Aimee parece antenadíssima com os músicos que lhe fornecem às mancheias as fagulhas e faíscas que fazem-na explodir como incendiária vocalista:

Para além do bubblegum, da máquina de rhythm’n’blues apunkalhado que o quarteto realiza com seu impetuoso senso rítmico, evocando grandes bandas de outrora como Richard Hell, Television ou Blondie, há conteúdo subversivo explosivo. Desde a denúncia da indústria midiática de celebridades em “Media Sensation” até a conclamação à insurreição e à rebeldia em “Take Back The Power”.

MEDIA SENSATION

“Land of the free, home of the slave
The uniformed are digging their own grave
Pacified with the mainstream media
What’s it gonna take? mass hysteria!
And that’s fine ‘cause i’m not blind
I’m ready for a fight of any kind
And we’re forming, trust me the drones are swarming
Take this as a global warning!
 
Don’t watch their T.V. stations!
It’s all a fabrication!
And don’t march in their formation!
A media sensation…

They’ll keep you suspended in fear
Until your freedoms disappear
I said it once, but you’re not hearing me.
You’re giving up liberty for security
And that’s fine, the sheep are blind
shepherds indoctrinate the minds of the masses,
Poor and middle classes
all parading like a bunch of fascists.
 
Don’t watch their T.V. stations!
It’s all a fabrication!
And don’t march in their formation!
A media sensation…
(I’m not buying, I’m not buying)
a media sensation
(I’m not buying, I’m not buying)
a media sensation
(I’m not buying, I’m not buying)
a media sensation!”

 

A discografia se limita, por hora, a três álbuns estupendos onde convocam, em alta dosagem de decibéis, a “lutar a boa luta”: The Interrupters, de 2014, o álbum de estréia; “Say It Loud”, de 2016; “Fight the Good Fight”, de 2018.

É verdade que, escutando os Interrupters, vocês se arriscam a ser fisgados pela iscas melodias infectious e o contágio será profundo – e a cura, repetidas doses da drug-of-choice. Assim como faziam outrora Green Day, Offspring, Undertones ou Ramones, os Interrupters são propulsionados pela forte melodiosidade das linhas vocais de sua fenomenal cantora-líder, Aimee Allen. Mas por trás de todo, um senso de performatividade de quem acredita que a música mobiliza. Canções são forças mobilizatórias, e o punk é movimento-de-movimentação.

Na primeira das mais de trocentas repetições do álbum Fight the Good Fight que por aqui rolou, o impacto das paredes-de-som do Interrupters serviu de background para que explodisse um vulcão de lirismo em flor. Foi só ouvir aquela voz e todo um panteão de musas se levantou: Brody Dalle no auge dos Distillers, Mia Zapata cantando no The Gits até ser brutalmente silenciada-assassinada, Patti Smith encarnando aqueles orixás brilhantes que ajudaram a parir obras-primas como Horses e Easter.

Os Interrupters são mais uma prova inconteste do poderio feminino no punk rock, um estilo musical que conta entre seus greatest chick-artists um time deste nível: Patti Smith, Blondie, Sleater-Kinney, Elastica, Breeders, X-Ray Spex, Hole, The Gits, Bellrays, Bikini Kill…

Uma canção como “Jenny Drinks” é um exemplo do quão foda o Interrupters consegue ser: sobre uma máquina de groove que evoca o The Clash ou o Gang of Four, a banda descreve a mina vida lôka Jenny, uma junkie a quem se dá voz no refrão da canção para que ela enuncie, em desespero altissonante:

“The world just ain’t ready for a spirit like me!
I never been so frustrated with humanity!
And I suppose that I’m the one who seems crazy!
But the world just ain’t ready for a spirit like me!”

Um certo espírito nietzschiano está aí manifesto: a sensação de ser “extemporâneo”, de ter “nascido póstumo”, como Nietzsche dizia de si mesmo.

A Jenny, eu-lírico da canção, provável alterego de Aimee Allen, sabe que gentileza não é fraqueza. Seu senso apurado de inadequação provêm de seu inconformismo: ela não se conforma em abaixar-se até a mediocridade que reina no tempo contemporânea.

E assim grita à rosa dos ventos para que todos ouçam: “o mundo não está preparado para um espírito como eu / nunca estive tão frustrada com a humana / e eu suponho que sou quem parece louca / mas o mundo não tá pronto pr’um espírito como eu!”

O aspecto político deste desespero inconformista fica mais explícito em “Take Back The Power” e “Babylon”. A primeira reativa afetos insurrecionais presentes no Rage Against the Machine, no System of a Down, e mete no trilho de um delicioso punkpop TheClash-esco. A segunda, adere a um tom imperativo e tenta afetar nas massas a rebelião: “Rebel against the kings of Babylon!”

BABYLON
God made man and man made kings
And the kings rule man and they bring the suffering
When the people rise up they see it as a riot
They wanna have control so you can’t be self-reliant
They make your world and don’t make an alliance
They sell your soul, they will buy it for a dime
They sell it for a dollar, so they can turn a profit
It’s a vicious cycle and the only way to stop it:
Rebel against the kings of babylon!

Yeah: they got the swords and the spears
and the bows and the knives
But we’ll fight it with our brothers
And our sisters for our lives.
Rebel against the kings of babylon!

A extraordinária cantora que encabeça o quarteto, Aimee Allen, tem alguns trampos pré-Interrupters que vale a pena conhecer, a começar por “I’d Start a Revolution If I Could Get Up in the Morning”, canção título do álbum homônimo e que tornou-se famosa na trilha sonora da série Birds of Prey:

Batizando a nossa era como The Age of Outrage, o Interrupters denuncia os poderosos e suas máscaras, trazendo abaixo o engodo e a fraude por trás das media sensations. Realizam assim um trampo de importância social ao tirar um sarro e lançarem um alerta aos que ficam pagando micos ao tratarem imbecis psicopatas e fascistas monstruosos (como Trump ou Bolsonaro) como se fossem Mitos:

Aimee Allen, em toda sua versatilidade, é uma artista imensamente colaborativa. As parcerias são notáveis: com o Sublime, gravou “Safe and Sound”; com Tim Armstrong do Rancid, “Phantom City” e “Got Each Other”; com um tal de Scott, um álbum inteiro (ao vivo e em clipe abaixo:).

Para além dos memoráveis e cantaroláveis refrões, a banda vem para interromper a caretice de um cenário que parece ter esquecido a lição do The Clash, a de que o único sentido de uma banda existir é tentar ser a “única banda que importa”.

A ponte Rancid – Interrupters aparece na atualidade histórica do punk-rock-em-movimento como uma reativação daquele espírito salutar que animava Joe Strummer, Mick Jones e Cia. Os Interrupters sabem-se enraizados em uma história linda e cujo legado tem que ser berrado para as próximas gerações – e é o que acontece no hino-de-empoderamento “11th Hour”, um emblema do poderio do punk como forma estética e ruptura comportamental. Tudo isso cabe em 2 minutos e meio de pura dinamite estética:

Neste esplêndido tributo (dê o play acima) prestado a uma das melhores bandas punk da história, o Rancid, quem homenageia os mestres é o quarteto ska-punk mais quente da atualidade, The Interrupters.

Honrando o legado do Rancid, os Interrupters replicam e reativam todo aquele ímpeto indomável, aquele entusiasmo afetivo, aquela salutar idolatria pela “Única Banda Que Importa” (o The Clash), toda a lírica subversiva e rançosa desses punkrappers do gueto, todo o espírito de equipe-em-plena sintonia que ajudam a consagrar …And Out Come The Wolves (1995, Epitaph Records) como um dos melhores álbuns já paridos na história deste treco ruidoso, rebelde e rude que se chama rock’n’roll.

A poesia questiona onde começa e termina o Poder:

THE 11TH HOUR

“Hey little sister,
Do you know what time it was
When you finally seen
All your broken dreams
Come crashing down your door?

They demand an answer
And they demand it quick
Or the questions fade
And then the wasted days
Come crawling back for more

Do you know where the power lies?
And who pulls the strings?
Do you know where the power lies?
It starts and ends with you!

The face of isolation
Well that’s one you recognize
Well you can’t get straight
It’s a lonely place
And one you do despise

Boredom is for sale now
And helplessness you feel
It’s a wounded dove
And the hawks are above
Blood splattered in a reel to reel

Do you know where the power lies?
And who pulls the strings?
Do you know where the power lies?
It starts and ends with you!

I was almost over
And my world was almost gone
And in a sudden rush
I could almost touch
The things that I’d done wrong

My jungle’s made of concrete
Although the silence I could feel
My aim is true
And I will walk on through
These mountains made of steel

Do you know where the power lies
And who pulls the strings
Do you know where the power lies
It starts and ends with you
Ohh, I say: it starts and ends with you!
I say: it starts and ends with you!”

Nestes tempos tenebrosos em que somos submergidos por uma enxurrada de retrocessos civilizatórios e agressões fascistas, em que estar antenado à mídia é como estar alerta a um constante pesadelo de péssimas notícias, há pelo menos uma boa nova: o punk rock ainda grita “Liberdade & Autonomia!”

CANTANDO AO RITMO DA DÚVIDA – Raul Seixas​ desvendado por O Pasquim​ em 1973

CANTANDO AO RITMO DA DÚVIDA – Raul Seixas​ desvendado por O Pasquim​ em 1973

O crítico musical Tárik de Souza​ conduziu magistral entrevista com Raul Seixas – aquele que “corta como uma navalha que ainda não foi inventada, porque tem gumes em todas as direções” – para o Pasquim (edição #228, Novembro de 1973). Ali, Tárik comenta de modo poético que Raul “canta ao ritmo da dúvida”: “nem exclamação, nem ponto final: reticências”. Transcendendo a demagogia e o dogmatismo, Raulzito teria fornecido à história da música popular brasileira uma das melhores encarnações do “espírito livre” que nos anuncia a filosofia de Friedrich Nietzsche​.

Fazendo um resgate de toda sua trajetória, Raulzito lembra como era Salvador, no fim dos anos 1950, quando o conjunto de rock Os Panteras – uma pá de bandas na época tinham nome de bicho… – começaram a fazer um barulho inovador. Não só pois evocavam e mimetizavam o rock’n’roll nascente, de Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Bo Diddley, mas também pois praticavam a mescla livre do rock com o baião, colocando Luiz Gonzaga pra dialogar e se entremesclar com a última novidade da música anglo-saxã. Foi um dos mais notáveis sincretismos culturais perpetrados sobre o rock’n’roll – ele mesmo um filho bastardo que o blues teve com o soul e o R&B – aquilo que os baianos roqueiros começaram a realizar lá pelos idos de 1959 e lá vai fumaça.

Na época da entrevista, Raul está envolvidão com aquele seu disco, hoje clássico, que envolve dois termos que hoje muita gente desconhece o contexto: “Krig-Ha!”, grito de guerra do Tarzan e que significa “cuidado!”, e “Bandolo”, que significa o inimigo, o adversário. O LP “Krig-Ha Bandolo” anuncia uma sociedade alternativa e traz em sua capa “o símbolo de Amon-Rá, acrescido de uma chave”. Segundo a piração do maluco beleza na época, esta sociedade “não surgiu imposta por nenhuma verdade, nenhum líder”, mas é um movimento internacionalista devotado à melhoria das coisas e que teria como membros ilustres John Lennon​ e Yoko Ono​. “Eles fazem parte da mesma sociedade, só que com outro nome”, conta Raul. “Nós mantemos uma correspondência constante com eles.” (In: “O Som do Pasquim”, p. 222)

A viagem de “Krig-Ha Bandolo” é descrita como uma encarnação tupiniquim das utopias culturais hippies, sincretizada com tradições populares brasileiras, tudo mesclado com um fino caldo liquidificado de Contracultura, Antipsiquiatria, Filosofia. Além de excelente cantor, compositor e artista performático, Raul Seixas desde cedo foi um magistral escritor. E se percebia como tal:

“Antes de eu vir pro Rio eu pensava em ser escritor. Sempre escrevi. Antes de cantar, eu pensei em escrever. Eu tenho alguma coisa escrita guardada no baú que eu penso em publicar alguma dia. Eu sou muito dado a filosofias, eu estudei muito filosofia, principalmente a metafísica, ontologia, essa coisa toda. Sempre gostei muito, me interessei. Minha infância foi formada por, vamos dizer, um pessimismo incrível, de Augusto dos Anjos, de Kafka, de Schopenhauer. Depois eu fui canalizando e divergindo, captando as outras coisas, abrindo mais e aceitando outras coisas. Estudei literatura. Comecei a ver a coisa sem verdades absolutas. Sempre aberto, abrindo portas para as verdades individuais. Assim, sabe? E escrevia muita poesia. Vim pra cá para publicar.” (p. 224)

Meditando na companhia de Paulo Coelho, Raul e seu parceiro começando a pirar em ufologia, a falar sobre a possibilidade da existência de ETs e OVNIs, a brincar com a noção de “profetas do apocalipse”, a mergulhar em Aleister Crowley​, e tudo isso acaba sendo explorado de maneira garrafal por jornais sensacionalistas. “O homem que viu disco voador dá Ibope, chamam ele pro Silvio Santos…”, brinca Raul, ao mesmo tempo admitindo que o faro para o sucesso – os hits de Raul, os best-sellers de Coelho – tem a ver com uma certa conexão com as mídias de massas e os conteúdos insólitos e excêntricos que elas julgam lucrativo disseminar.

Raul Seixas sempre insistiu em seu papel de livre-pensador – ou melhor, livre-cantador! – que não quer impor a ninguém uma perspectiva estreita e absolutizada. “Ninguém aqui quer chegar a uma verdade absoluta e impô-la. Apenas se quer abrir portas. Pras verdades individuais.” (p. 229) E este tema das portas obviamente abre-nos para evocações de acontecimentos seminais da contracultura: o livro de Aldous Huxley​, “The Doors of Perception”, batizado a partir de versos do poeta e ilustrador William Blake​, que por sua vez inspirariam a banda encabeçada por Jim Morrison​, o The Doors​. Raulzito estava ciente de que “se as portas da percepção fossem purificadas, tudo apareceria como realmente é: infinito.”

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”
― William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Diante destas tendências ao misticismo e ao magicismo, que se manifestam na obra Raulzística (também por influxo de Paulo Coelho), O Pasquim questiona o músico: bem, você diz querer “abrir uma porta na cabeça de quem está ouvindo”, mas será que não acaba às vezes caindo num discurso esotérico e hermético, só para iniciados? “Há o perigo de você se fechar dentro do magicismo! Há esse perigo, você vê esse perigo?”

RAUL SEIXAS – Não. É uma escada, é um estágio. Nós estamos no primeiro estágio. Estamos transando com a fase ‘Terra’ da coisa. Esse primeiro estágio tem que ser assim. O segundo estágio já é outra coisa, já é mais aberto… Não se pode começar uma coisa assim, você tem que manipular. Por exemplo, Raul Seixas. Eu tô segurando Raul Seixas ali embaixo, como uma marionete. Eu tô aqui em cima, eu sei até que ponto ele deve subir um pouquinho mais, cada vez mais. Mas nunca ele pode chegar onde eu estou, porque se ele chegar onde eu estou, não vou comunicar mais.

O PASQUIM – Esse Raul Seixas que você manipula, que está lá embaixo, é em função de quem te escuta e te vê?

RAUL – Esse Raul Seixas que está no Teatro Tereza Raquel cantando esse tipo de música, fazendo iê-iê-iê realista, dando um certo toque mágico na coisa, é necessário. Usando muito a imaginação, a intuição. Longe, fugindo do logicismo. Esse logicismo radical kantiano, de Pascal. Eu vejo isso como um estágio.

O PASQUIM – Você faz isso mais pra você se entender ou pra que os outros te entendam?

RAUL – Para que os outros me entendam. Pra que eu penetre em todas as estruturas, em todas as ‘classes’, em todas as faixas. Todo mundo tá cantando “A Mosca na Sopa”.

O PASQUIM – Eu acho que o magicismo seria uma entrelinha. Você não tem medo então de perder a linha? Você vai tanto na entrelinha que acaba perdendo a linha.

RAUL – Não, que isso? Sabe por que? Eu tenho medo de hermetismo. Eu acho que não é mais fase de hermetismo.

O PASQUIM – Mas o magicismo pode cair.

RAUL SEIXAS – Mas é um magicismo estudado. É dosado, nego. Dosadinho.

(p. 230)

Por aí se vê um artista que deseja ser popular, transcender fronteiras, falar com o povo todo, e que nunca quis soar hermético, falando apenas para a área VIP dos detentores de capital cultural/intelectual. O que não quer dizer que Raul Seixas fosse um disseminador de mensagens banais, de filosofias vulgares, pois desejou através de sua arte um autêntico ataque coordenado contra a caretice, o conformismo e a estereotipia.

Ele rompeu com os estereótipos prévios do que deve ser o artista pop e se recusou a comer o alpiste alheio, forjando de maneira radical e autônoma uma nova figura do artista popular.

RAUL SEIXAS – “Tá todo mundo estereotipado. Por isso faço questão de dizer que eu não sou da turma pop, que eu não tô comendo alpiste pop. Eu sei lá, eu acho que tá todo mundo de cabeça baixa, tá todo mundo Arthur Schopenhauer​, todo mundo num pessimismo incrível… Tá todo mundo de cabeça baixa, quieto, conformado. Eu sou um cara muito otimista nesse ponto. Sei lá, eu não sei se é a minha correspondência com o planeta, vejo a coisa em termos globais.E tá realmente acontecendo uma coisa fantástica, que é essa certeza e conscientização de que você deve ser um rato, transar de rato pra entrar no buraco do rato, vestir gravata e paletó para ser amigo do rato. E depois as coisas acontecem. Não ficar de fora fazendo bobagem, de calça Levi’s com tachinha. Esse tipo de protesto eu acho a coisa mais imbecil do mundo, já não se usa mais. Eles tão pensando como o John Lennon disse: “They think they’re so classless and free”. Mas não são coisa nenhuma, rapaz, tá todo mundo comendo alpiste, tá todo mundo dentro de uma engrenagem sem controle.

O PASQUIM – Quer dizer que você conclui que os intelectuais brasileiros estão muito por fora, muito devagar. Não estão dentro da realidade. Toda essa sua estratégia é para ficar amigo do rato.

RAUL – Dos ratos. No plural.

O PASQUIM – Vamos falar do tempo em que você era produtor de discos na CBS. Produzir discos de Jerry Adriani, Wanderléa…

RAUL – Renato e Seus Blue Caps Original​. Eu acho muito bom, eu acho legal.

O PASQUIM – A sua posição profissional era praticamente ditatorial. Como era a tua transa pessoal com essa gente?

RAUL – Eu fazia aquela coisa porque sabia que era uma coisa inconsequente. Eu fazendo ou não, outra pessoa ia fazer. Eu estava fazendo aquele trabalho, o diretor da CBS queria, e enquanto isso, aprendia a usar aquele mecanismo.

O PASQUIM – Você estava de rato?

RAUL – Exatamente. Eu tava de rato, vestido de rato. Foi quando surgiu a idéia de eu contratar Sérgio Sampaio​ (saiba mais: https://acasadevidro.com/?s=S%C3%A9rgio+Sampaio), um cara fantástico, muito amigo meu. Nós fizemos um disco chamado “Sociedade da Grã-Ordem Kavernista Apresenta Sessão das 10″. Mas o disco misteriosamente foi tirado do mercado porque não era a linha da CBS. Esse disco foi quando eu botei as manguinhas de fora… Foi naquela fase hippie, aquela coisa toda. Adoro o disco, acho sensacional… Fui expulso da CBS em função desse LP…” (p. 231-233)

Em conversa com o Pasquim, Raul Seixas revela uma atitude, um ethos, que ainda tem muito a nos ensinar. Emana autonomia, independência de pensamento, inconformismo com as caretices sociais hegemônicas. Convida-nos a romper com os ratos e não mais comer o alpiste pop que a elite do atraso deseja que nos satisfaça. Com Raul Seixas, um icônico espírito livre, radicalmente anti-dogmático, emanando poesia por todos os poros, cantando no ritmo da dúvida, deixou-nos como legado uma obra tão magistral quanto salutar.

LEIA A ENTREVISTA COMPLETA DE RAUL AO PASQUIM EM 1973

GITA

Às vezes você me pergunta
Por que é que eu sou tão calado
Não falo de amor quase nada
Nem fico sorrindo ao teu lado

Você pensa em mim toda hora
Me come, me cospe, me deixa
Talvez você não entenda
Mas hoje eu vou lhe mostrar:

Eu sou a luz das estrelas
Eu sou a cor do luar
Eu sou as coisas da vida
Eu sou o medo de amar

Eu sou o medo do fraco
A força da imaginação
O blefe do jogador
Eu sou, eu fui, eu vou

Gita gita gita gita gita

Eu sou o seu sacrifício
A placa de contra-mão
O sangue no olhar do vampiro
E as juras de maldição

Eu sou a vela que acende
Eu sou a luz que se apaga
Eu sou a beira do abismo
Eu sou o tudo e o nada

Por que você me pergunta
Perguntas não vão lhe mostrar
Que eu sou feito da terra
Do fogo, da água e do ar

Você me tem todo dia
Mas não sabe se é bom ou ruim
Mas saiba que eu estou em você
Mas você não está em mim

Das telhas eu sou o telhado
A pesca do pescador
A letra A tem meu nome
Dos sonhos eu sou o amor

Eu sou a dona de casa
Nos pegue-pagues do mundo
Eu sou a mão do carrasco
Sou raso, largo, profundo

Gita gita gita gita gita

Eu sou a mosca da sopa
E o dente do tubarão
Eu sou os olhos do cego
E a cegueira da visão

Mas eu sou o amargo da língua
A mãe, o pai e o avô
O filho que ainda não veio
O início, o fim e o meio (2x)
Eu sou o início, o fim e o meio (3x)

* * * * *

Por Eduardo Carli de Moraes​

Saiba mais em A Casa de Vidro​ e ouça a Discografia Completa de Raulzêra: https://acasadevidro.com/?s=Raul+Seixas

RADIOHEAD – Ao vivo em Glastonbury, 1997 – Show Completo

radiohead glasto 97 front 2#ShowsNaÍntegra

Radiohead
Glastonbury Festival (Somerset, England)
28th June 1997

Tracklist:

01 Lucky
02 My Iron Lung
03 Exit Music (For a Film)
04 The Bends
05 Paranoid Android
06 Karma Police
07 Creep
08 No Surprises
09 Just
10 Fake Plastic Trees
11 High and Dry
12 Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Radiohead, New York, NY 1997. Photo by Danny Clinch

Radiohead, New York, NY 1997. Photo by Danny Clinch

1997: o ano de…
ok-computer

“It’s better to burn out than to fade away” – 20 Anos Sem Kurt Cobain (1967-1994)

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It seems to me quite ironic and ambiguous that a band named Nirvana was actually the living and struggling embodiment of what Buddhists call Samsara. As if he was bound to the wheel of craving and suffering, Kurt Cobain screamed his guts out just like I imagine Prometheus (so beautifully depicted in Rubens’ painting) screamed day after day as the eagle devoured his liver. Nirvana is perhaps the most tragic rock and roll band there was, seen from the perspective of Cobain’s death, but it ‘s also one of the most exciting pages of rock history in the 1990s. It inspired us, with its punkish courage, to take mainstream culture by assault. Off with commercial shitty kitsch! He wanted art to be undiluted expression of raw and true emotion, communicated through the means of songs bursting with juvenile energy, suicidal tendencies, drug experiences, Beatlemania, and an up-bringing in what he called “a punk rock world”.

 He violently departed from us, 20 years ago, in April 1994, by blowing his brains out with a shotgun on his 1-million-dollar mansion, chez lui on Trigger-Happy America. When he chose suicide as a way-out-of-the-Samsarian-mess, his daughter Frances was 20 months old and couldn’t possibly understand anything about the struggles of a heroin addict with his condition as an international pop-superstar. Singing as if he was a tree rooted in dark angry soil, his voice seemed to arise from an abyss of suffering, especially located in an intense point of pain inside his belly. That invisible wound made tremendously audible by his music rang so true and filled with authenticity, in an era of poseurs and fakers and hair-metal yuppie cowshit. Lester Bangs once wrote that “expression of passion was why music was invented in the first place”, and Cobain also seemed to believe in this – and he wasn’t ashamed to put his “dark” emotional side, from depression and paranoia to sociophobia and alienation, to craft the punk-rock hymns that turned him unwillingly into The Spokesman Of A Generation. Extraordinarily capable of expressing his feelings, Cobain’s heart poured out of himself like lava from a volcano, letting us peek through a sonic keyhole into the labyrinths of an anguished life seeking release and craving for pain to end.

Cobain’s musicianship was spectacularly exciting and innovative – even though he borrowed a lot from a similar heavy, distorted and fast guitar-sound, similar to the one invented and mastered in previous decades by Johnny Ramones and Mick Joneses – he created out of that something that was distinguishable his own. Cherishing intensity rather than complexity, and emotional catharsis more than rational self-controlness, Nirvana’s music carried within it some much power that the whole thing mushroomed into one of those rares episode in music history when a band becomes History, defines an Era, before burning-out instead of fading-away. I call them “The Exploding Stars”. I would argue, If you permit me to trip a little bit on some stoned hypotheses, that Cobain’s voice spoke to millions, and his music stirred up such an intense commotion, because of the authentic and desperate artistical expression that he was able to create out of his Samsarian suffering. In 1991, the kitsch of American pop culture – from Michael Jackson to Guns’N’Roses – was suddenly kicked in the butt by the 1990s equivalent to MC5’s Kick Out The Jams to the 1960s and Nevermind The Bollocks, Here’ The Sex Pistols to the 1970s.  

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And here we are, 20 years after he took a shortcut into that land which no voyager ever comes back from (like Shakespeare’s Hamlet said), discussing his legacy and trying to understand his life and his death. Violent deaths occur every day and all the time, of course, and why should the death of a rock star be made so much fuzz about? The thing is: American Culture is deeply influenced by the realm of Pop, which is a money-making-machine mainly, of course, but sometimes explodes out of control and becomes a cultural force that manages to transcend the markets. It becomes something to be dealt with by Art History, by Sociology, by Philosophy, by Anthropology, by Existential Psychology etc. Or do you perhaps think that the more than 60 people who committed copycat suicides after Cobain’s demise in 1994 related to Cobain only as consumers do with manufacturers of products? Could we possibly say that the more than 5.000 people who went to his funeral, and joined in a candlelight vigil, were merely mourning because they had lost one of their hired entertainers? What about more than 50 million records sold (how many billions of downloads, I wonder?): did all these listeners heard Cobain just as a manufactured commodity? No! Cobain had an authenticity arising from the trueness of feeling underlying his music, and this set him apart from everything that was going on in “Mainstream American Culture” in that era.

Nirvana kicked the door to the ground for Underground America to step into the spotlight in 1991, “The Year that Punk Broke” (when Sonic Youth signed to a major; when Pearl Jam and Soundgarden skyrocketed to the top of charts; when Seattle’s scene became “The Big Thing” in a process juicily conveyed by Hype! , the documentary). Violent and untimely deaths happened all around Cobain while he experienced and interacted with people from the music scenes of Aberdeen, Olympia, Tacoma and Seattle. Prior to Cobain’s suicide, there had been other tragedies in Seattle Rock City: for example, Mia Zapata‘s cold-blooded murder in July 1993, when the singer-songwriter of The Gits (one of the awesomest “grunge” bands that never made it to the Mass Media…) was raped and killed after leaving a bar in Seattle. Or the fatal-OD that took to an early grave Andrew Wood, singer in Mother Love Bone (whose remaining members went on to build Temple of The Dog and then Pearl Jam).

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TWO GRUNGY TRAGEDIES BEFORE COBAIN:  MIA ZAPATA’s murder (watch below the full The Gits doc) and ANDREW WOOD’s fatal OD (listen below to the tribute album by Temple Of The Dog, wich contains the grungy-hymn in which Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell share vocal duties, “Hunger Strike”).

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Suicide is common currency in rock’n’roll mythology. The Who had screamed in the 1960s, for a whole generation to hear: “I hope I die before I get old”. Neil Young’s “Hey Hey My My” stated that “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” – a phrase later to become one of the most quoted from Cobain’ suicide letter. The Dead-at-27 Club had already a plentiful of members – Hendrix, Morrison, Janis… – when Nirvana’s lead singer joined them on this fraternity of bones. His originality was in his means-of-death: he was the first of them to have commited suicide. But did he really choose to leave life in order to become myth? Or such ambitions were not the case for someone craving to escape a labyrinth of angst, rage, stomach-aches, annoying fame, never-ending tours and chronical dissatisfaction? To get back to my point in the beggining of this trip: isn’t suicide, in Cobain’s case, an succesfull attempt simply to blow to smithereens the whole damned Samsara? After all, this man was an extremist not only in art but also in life, and it’s quite possible he entertained extreme notions about what Nirvana was all about.

 Nirvana’s music was not Zen at all – it was the sound of fury delivered in packages of Beatlesque melody and punkish attitude. When, 20 years ago today, he chose utter self-destruction, this was hardly a surprising ending for someone who had talked openly about suicide for years and years, and who had previously attempted it some times before, and who almost named the follow-up to Nevermind with the phrase I Hate Mysef And I Want To Die… Not surprising, but still mysterious and fascinating and hard to fully understand. Some writers and interpreters see Cobain’s suicide as something despicable, and criticize him for being a sell-out who couldn’t enjoy his success, or a kid who couldn’t stand his “tummy-ache” and chose some dumb radical medicine. In his article “An Icon of Alienation”, Jonathan Freedland writes, for example, about Cobain’s Last Days (also portrayed in cinema by Gus Van Sant):

“Generation X-ers are meant to be the slacker generation, yet here was the slacker-in-chief living the yuppie dream: married, padding around a $1.1 million luxury mansion with a garden for his baby daughter to play in, and Microsoft and Boeing executives for neighbours. It proved to be no refuge for Kurt Cobain, the boy who had come from blue-collar nowhere and made himself an international star and millionaire. Holed up inside the house overlooking the perfume-scented lake, he pumped his veins full of heroin, wrote his rambling suicide note, and did so much damage to his head that police could only identify his body through fingerprints. Dental records were no use, because nothing was left of his mouth.” – JONATHAN FREEDLAND, An Icon Of Alienation.

Some say some sort of suicide gene or tragic curse ran in the Cobain family: three of Kurt’s uncles had killed themselves. But the picture, of course, is much more complex than the “family tree” explanations wants to admit. It’s well known that Kurt Cobain was deeply pained both by stomach-aches and by childhood traumas (he was, every journalist repeated to exhaustion, the “son of a broken home”). His heroin-addiction, which he justified as a means of self-medication, it seems to relate also to some frantic need to numb his existential discomfort and disgust, to reach periodically some “artificial paradises” similar to the ones experienced by Baudelaire, De Quincey, Burroughs, Ken Kesey and tons of other artists and mystics. But no explanation of his bloody choice of escape from life can be convincing without a discussion about Celebrity, Fame, Success. As Will Hermes wrote in Rolling Stone magazine: “The singer-songwriter, who wrestled with medical problems and the drugs he took to keep them at bay,  was also deeply conflicted about his fame, craving and rejecting it.”

That’s what makes Nirvana so interesting: a punk band kicking out the jams in Sub Pop records turns into the highest-selling band in the world and becomes rich on the payroll of a major record company – Geffen. I would like to attempt to reflect briefly upon some of the reasons that explain Cobain’s suicide, but without venturing to give a comprehensive biography of the man or his band – a job already done brilliantly by Charles Cross’s Louder Than Heaven, by the Nirvana bio written by Everett True, or by the documentary About a Son by A. J. Schnack.

Let’s head back to 1991, when Nevermind exploded into the mainstream pop arena and became a cultural phenomenon of huge proportions. This landmark album wasn’t only a big commercial hit, destined to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide. It wasn’t only one of the greatest rock’n’roll albums ever made, with songs so powerful that Simon Williams describes them as “savage indictments of the rock ethos, eye-bulging, larynx-blistering screamalongs”. It wasn’t only a passing fancy of youngsters who would completely forget about the band when the next wave of pop novelties came along. Nevermind was an era-defining masterpiece of epic proportions, the most important album of the whole grunge era, the record that stands out in the 1990s as something unique and unsurpassed. It kicked out the jams with its raw power and heartfelt catharsis, and finally punk rock aesthetics and ethics became common currency and were delivered to the astonished masses. “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, a song named jokingly after a deodorant, and in which Cobain said he was merely ripping off The Pixies, took MTV by storm in 1991 and buried for awhile the Disco-Yuppie-Crap and the Hair-Metal-Bullshit. It kick-started the Grunge Era and opened the gates wide open for the Seattle scene to become immensely influential through Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, The Screaming Trees, and many others. For the first time ever in the U.S., it seemed like Punk Rock was gonna win its battle and inject rebelliousness and dissent into the veins of American suffering from a hangover after the Reagan-years in Shopping Centerish Yuppie America.

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 “Nirvana have also been seen in sociological terms: as defining a new generation, the twentysomething ‘slackers’ who have retreated from life; as telling unattractive home truths about a country losing its empire and hit by recession; as representing the final, delayed impact of British punk on America. They have also shocked people by trashing male gender codes: kissing each other on the national network show Saturday Night Live, appearing in dresses in the video for their single ‘In Bloom’, doing pro-gay benefits. We may be more used to this in Britain, but America is a country with much more machismo in its popular culture. A sensational appearance on last year’s globally broadcast MTV Awards, where they smashed their equipment and mocked rock competitors Guns N’Roses, sealed their status as America’s bad boys…” JON SAVAGE, Sounds Dirty – The Truth About Nirvana

 Nirvana wasn’t political like The Clash, but yet they certainly did a political statement with their career. Kurt Cobain shoots himself in the head and his brains get splattered all over the American Dream – that thing that, George Carlin said, “you have to be asleep to believe in”. Nirvana was much more about a provocation, à la William Burroughs (Cobain’s favorite writer), on the despised Square Society of White America. It’s punkish agression against Yuppie bullshit. It states that music shouldn’t be seen only as product or merchandise, and that it can convey emotions that can “infect” large portions of society with its groove, its stamina, its mind-expansion and energy-raising powers.

Kurt Cobain could be described by psychopathologists as clinically depressed or bi-polar – it’s known he had familiarity with Ritalins and Lithiums and other creations of the Pharmacological Industries in Capitalist America. But Nirvana’s music is not only a downer – on the contrary, Nevermind cointained so much power that it seemed like it was capable of awakening a whole generation out of its lethargy and inaction. But Cobain couldn’t and wouldn’t be the “leader of a generation”, the preacher telling in the microfone for the converted masses which way to follow. He wouldn’t become a parody of himself (“I hope I die before I turn into Pete Townsend”, he said), he wouldn’t be a happy millionaire smiling for the papparazzis, he simply wouldn’t conform to letting Nirvana become a sell-out act of merely market-wise relevance. With his death, he turned Nirvana into a symbol for decades to come, a band never to be forgotten.

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 “The sleeve of Nevermind shows a baby swimming underwater towards a dollar bill on a fish hook. The intended meaning is clear: the loss of innocence, the Faustian contract that usually comes with money. Take it, but if you do, you’re hooked for life. It’s a parable of Nirvana’s current dilemma: they’ve taken the bait, but the contradictions of their success are threatening to tear them apart. How can the members of Nirvana retain their integrity, which is very important to them, in a situation which demands constant compromise? How can they sing from the point of view of an outsider now that they’re in a privileged position? How can they suffer relentless worldwide media exposure and still retain, in Grohl’s words, ‘the spontaneity and the energy of something fresh and new’ that has marked their career?” – JON SAVAGE

“Teenage angst paid off well, now I’m bored all old”: that was the statement that began In Utero’s sonic ride. In it, Cobain wants to take us with him on his downward spiral, never afraid to let the songs show his inner confusion and Samsarian suffering. He didn’t believe in a loving God acting as a Daddy up above on the clouds, looking out for their pet-children, but rather was seduced by Buddhist notions, for example that of Karma. Nirvana’s music seems like some sort of ritual of Karmic cleansing, in which Cobain attempts, through a visceral outpouring of emotions, especially the ones that are burdensome, to attain some release.

But he didn’t arrive at no Enlightnenment – not even plain and simple piece of mind. In Rome, March 1994, he attempts suicide with more than 50 pills of Roipnol. He couldn’t stand the never-ending tours, the stupid interviews, the persecution by papparazis, the fans acting like Neanderthals, the need to repeat for the thousandth time “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – even in those nights when we didn’t felt like doing it. He simply wasn’t able to “enjoy” the ride of popstardom inside the Commercial Machinery of Profit Seeking Corporate America. When Rolling Stone did a cover issue with Nirvana, Kurt Cobain wore a t-shirt that read: ‘CORPORATE MAGAZINES STILL SUCK’. Even tough he hated Corporate America, he was immersed in it, and it had the means for him to take his message to larger audiences instead of limiting himself to the narrow world of punk-rock and indie concerts where you only preach to the converted. Nirvana never did corporate rock, but instead they did dangerous music that the industry soon discovered that resounded with millions of people worldwide. To call them “sell-outs” is narrow-mindedness. They tried instead to deeply transform Mainstream culture by taking it by storm. This is one of the most influential bands in the history of rock because it inspired us to reclaim the airwaves out of the hands of those fuckers Terence McKenna talks about in “Reclaim Your Mind”:

He never felt at ease or at home under the spotlight of mass media, gossip magazines, commercial TV shows. Always a punkish outsider and underdog that never quite fitted into the mainstream’s machinery of popstardom, he identified himself with feminists, oddballs, weirdos and other non-conformist and eccentric individuals and urban tribes. He despised pop icons like M. Jackson or Axl Rose, and loved The Pixies, The Raincoats, Young Marble Giants, all sorts of lo-fi and low-budget underground “indie” stuff. Even tough proto-grungers such as Husker Du’s Bob Mould, Black Flag’s Henry Rollins or The Replacements’ Paul Weterberg done something similar to Cobain both musically and lyrically, neither exploded internationally like Nirvana to wide-spread impact on thousands of lives.

I remember him as punk rock kid from a fucked-up town filled with macho-men rednecks, and who expressed his rage against mainstream American culture with extraordinary talent. I remember him as an aesthetic extremist who loved William Burroughs stoned literature, and who entertained himself in his Aberdeen years with peculiar fun such as watching Faces of Death after eating hallucinogenic mushrooms. I remember him also as a sometimes sensitive and tender guy who had pet-turtles in his bathtub and hated in his guts all sorts of homophobia, misoginy and Neanderthal stupidity. I remember him as a music geek that loved underground music and did everything in his power to invite his audience to listen to his favorite “indie” artists (like Pixies, Breeders, Meat Puppets, Vaselines, Daniel Johnston, Beat Happening, Flipper, Bikini Kill, Half Japanese, Billy Childish, Butthole Surfers…).

David Stubbs, in his article “I Hate Myself And I Want to Die”, writes:

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“Rock’n’roll mythology is fed and defined by its occasional deaths. Usually, these are due to some excess or other – driving too fast, getting too high, taking too much, going too far, the romantic pushing back of life’s envelope, testing the limits, wanting too much, wanting it now, forfeiting tomorrow in the bargain. Rock’n’roll mythology dictates that its heroes die because they wanted to live too much. Kurt Cobain, however, didn’t want to live. He wanted to die.”

It can be said that he’s the most perfect embodiment in rock music of  Nihilism, that cultural phenomenon which Nietzsche predicted, in the 19th century, that would become wide-spread. Cobain radically acted upon his nihilism, towards his self-destruction, what sets him apart from other famous nihilists, like Emil Cioran or Arthur Schopenhauer, who died of old age and so-called “natural causes”.

The man died, but his deeds are still with us, haunting us like Prometheu’s scream as he’s being eaten by an eagle, inspiring us like a Punk Monument to raw power in an age of slumber, provoking us like a tragic character which awakens us to a life that ain’t no picnic. There’s reason to mourn and get the paralysing blues when we considerer Cobain’s suicide, but there’s also reason to cherish and celebrate a life that has left a legacy that millions of us feel that have enriched our lives. Cobain struggled in Samsara and that makes him a member of a brotherhood called Humanity. Nirvana always sounded to me like the music of a brother, expressing what we, his brothers in suffering, also experienced but were unable to express so powerfully and unforgettably as he did.

[By Awestruck Wanderer]

“I’m worse at what I do best…” – 20 years without Kurt Cobain (1967-1994), PART II – Quotes from his interviews; “About a Son” (full doc); Nirvana’s Discography (stream or download)…

MTV Unplugged: Nirvana

“I’m a spokesman for myself. It just so happens that there’s a bunch of people that are concerned with what I have to say. I find that frightening at times because I’m just as confused as most people. I don’t have the answers for anything. I don’t want to be a fucking spokesperson.”

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“I definitely have a problem with the average macho man – the strong-oxen, working-class type – because they have always been a threat to me. I’ve had to deal with them most of my life – being taunted and beaten up by them in school, just having to be around them and be expected to be that kind of person when you grow up. I definitely feel closer to the feminine side of the human being than I do the male – or the American idea of what a male is supposed to be. Just watch a beer commercial and you’ll see what I mean.”

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“If you’re a sexist, racist, homophobe, or basically an asshole, don’t buy this CD. I don’t care if you like me, I hate you. “

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“I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had voted me Most Likely To Kill Everyone At A High School Dance.”

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“I don’t want to sound egotistical, but I know our music is better than a majority of the commercial shit that’s been crammed down people’s throats for a long time.”

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“All the albums I ever liked delivered a great song one after another: Aerosmith’s ‘Rocks’, The Sex Pistols’ ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’, Led Zeppelin’s ‘II’, AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’. (…) I really liked R.E.M., and I was into all kinds of old ’60s stuff. (…) With ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ I was trying to write the ultimate po song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it.. When I head the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily I should have been in that band – or at least in a Pixies cover band. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard…”

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“Birds scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth, but sadly we don’t speak bird.”

– Kurt Cobain
(1967 – 1994)

You might also like:

About a Son

“Kurt Cobain: About a Son” (A Film By A. J. Schnack)

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NIRVANA’s DISCOGRAPHY:

 [DOWNLOAD FULL DISCOGRAPHY]

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LIVE AT READING – 1992

Grandes álbuns de 2014 – 1ª Edição – TEMPLES, “Sun Structures”

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Temples

TEMPLESSun Structures (2014)
Download: http://bit.ly/NaQAQB

Psychedelic Rock / UK
MP3 – 320 kbps
00:52:55

“After a steady build up of stateside buzz and support, Kettering, England’s favorite psychedelic sons Temples are announcing their debut full-length, Sun Structures, out February 11th on Fat Possum. It’s a record that’s destined to set out the band’s stall as Britain’s premier retro-futurists, with influences ranging from ’60s psychedelia to Motown, glam, and Krautrock, all viewed through a very modern kaleidoscope – and always keeping the song at the heart of it all. Recorded in the box-room of guitarist/vocalist James Bagshaw’s home, the aim was “Jack Nitzsche on a DIY budget,” and with one listen to first single off the record, “Mesmerize,” it’s pretty clear that they’ve succeeded.” – Read the whole bio at Fat Possum

Tracklist
01 – Shelter Song [00:03:10]
02 – Sun Structures [00:05:13]
03 – The Golden Throne [00:04:10]
04 – Keep In The Dark [00:04:36]
05 – Mesmerise [00:03:42]
06 – Move With The Season [00:05:10]
07 – Colours To Life [00:05:11]
08 – A Question Isn’t Answered [00:05:11]
09 – The Guesser [00:04:06]
10 – Test Of Time [00:03:53]
11 – Sand Dance [00:06:31]
12 – Fragment’s Light [00:01:57]

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Here’s what Toronto’s NOW Magazine wrote about them:

“It would be easy to write off Temples as retro-loving hippies who likely don’t own any records released later than 1969. Their recent singles teem with kaleidoscopic psychedelia and Beatles harmonies, and their November set at the Horseshoe was too brief to show much well-roundedness. Their velvet blazers, turtlenecks and wild hair, meanwhile, only added to the throwback vibe.

What a surprise, then, that not only does the Kettering, England, four-piece’s debut album give us close to an hour of music, but, like Tame Impala records, it delivers retro influences through an overwhelmingly modern filter. Temples have been called “production-obsessed,” and their attention to detail comes through in the dense but sensitive layers of cosmic effects, groovy rhythms and oh-so-hooky melodies.

The songwriting is outstanding: striking and smart, concise and full, and James Bagshaw sings superbly throughout. The Golden Throne sounds a bit like caper film music. The bong-worthy A Question Isn’t Answered and Sand Dance bring in Eastern influences, while Keep In The Dark is buoyant psychedelic pop.”

http://www.nowtoronto.com/music/story.cfm?content=196551