the story of spielgusher begins at what would be near the end of the minutemen. me and d. boon were huge richard meltzer students. we knew of him from his helping to create rock-write. in most places where we read him, it was the only thing we found interesting. it was also gut busting and for corndogs like us, that meant brain busting – or was it the other way around? we dug the confusion. we knew of him from his “hepcats from hell” radio show on kpfk, they were on after midnight on saturdays. they were the best, they were a trip. literally for us – I’d be on the deck w/lights out and just listening/tripping/pondering/voyaging. of course we knew of him from writing lyrics for the blue oyster cult, of course! “scientist rock” is what he called the minutemen in creem magazine for a review of the “bean-spill” e.p. he sent a letter to us about being sorry for missing a gig cuz of a wedding so we put it on the back of our “buzz or howl under the influence of heat” e.p. he was a true hero of the minutemen. you can imagine how blown away we were when richard suggested a collaboration. “CRIMONY!” was the word from me and d. boon’s mouth at the same time, damn! georgie was into it too. richard’s idea was to give us ten sets of lyrics, ten spiels and he also wanted to play sax – fuck yeah! I remember getting the spiels from richard… it had be a few days or so since we had just finished a tour opening for rem around the southeast and such. I went over to d. boon’s pad to give them to him cuz I wanted him to think of music to go w/them, I was gonna do the same thing and then we could pool our ideas, come up w/the best we could for richard cuz this was a mindblow we were gonna get to do this. I found d. boon all red w/fever, he had a sickness. damn, he was like a lobster and thought he should stay home but he said he wouldn’t be driving and anyway, I said look here’s the richard meltzer spiels and he was so happy – like me, he couldn’t believe it and face lit up w/a light that was nothing like the fever one I had found him w/when I got there – man, it was a righteous glow and we looked at each other as if to say “fuck yeah!” or something like that. he said he would take them w/him and work on ideas for them like me. that’s the last time I saw him. I know this might read like drama but I’m just trying to explain the history of this proj.
well, we never got to collaborate w/richard. a sickness ‘pert-near killed me in 2000, this illness rattled me hard. it was profound on me. the second opera came out of it. lots of stuff happened in the next couple of years and one of them was to ask richard to record spoken word versions of his poems and such so I could somehow be a part of making music for them. I told him I wanted to call it spielgusher – I thought of the name by grasping at something I could best describe how I was feeling, I wanted to get lit by his spiels, I wanted to live! by this time he was no longer in so cal but had moved to portland up in oregon. during 2004 he had recorded what was to be fortyeight pieces, just his voice though at one point he did do a solo on a turtle whistle. man, when he sent me the cd, what a trip – I listened all them spiels tons of times. it was really a trip to find that some of those ten given to us minutemen were a part of these, I remembered the words from those printed pages like there were burned in my head and now hearing richard’s voice read them. of course there was a buttload more too but they were all totally him and I loved it big time. somehow I had to put music w/this that I was just as emotionally connected to though I didn’t want it to be too watt-preconceived, aahhh – it’s hard to find the words but I wanted it to be of a new experience, like when I heard his voice doing the first time listening, how the lept out and yanked on me in a way not expected. so I wanted not obvious collaboration, maybe not ready for something like this… I wanted in a trippy way personal – like in a way how I related to them cuz of richard! I was thinking of big time an out-of-element sitch and tried twice, a couple years apart but both times yielded zilch. not their fault but I was hoping to put bass from how they reacted first-hand to richard w/out my sidemousing that expressing (expression?) but I couldn’t put blame on anyone but me for making the foist.
april of 2007 is when I first met mr shimmy and ms yuko – señor dorian, an ex-pat in japan had turned me onto mi-gu music and it was profound on me. I was asked by them to record on some songs of theirs while I was w/the stooges for the fuji rock fest… wow, they were righteous people and musicians! the next february, I got to do gigs w/them, a couple w/the first incarnation of brother’s sister’s daughter (actually they would become the core of that proj – but that’s another story!). right after that, they asked to record w/me on something of mine – I immediately thought of richard’s spiels, I don’t know exactly why but I did and it was an honest feeling. the big diff this third though was I would jump in w/them at the same time. they had me come to tokyo and for three days in may of 2008, we came up w/sixtyfive pieces of music. it was actually a prac pad in the kamikitazawa part of town at what was then called “gourd island” and mr shimmy brought in his own roland vs-2480 harddisk recorder along w/mics modified by him, custom cables he made himself, huge grounding cable and a isolated power distributor he designed using blocks of wood and tiles – all his own very personal vision of how he likes capturing sound, amazing. there was no separate booth – we were all in one room and those were some warm days in may so I wore a jinbei the entire time. I used mr shimmy’s mexican-made fender p-bass, a very good one. the rundown for each piece of music went like this: someone would come up w/a motif and then us three would jam around this for a little bit. since there were so many spiels of richard’s and many were very short, we made our musical parts likewise. then we would record what we had worked out and move on to the next. we would rotate who would start us off and sometimes ms yuko would move to xylophone or congas. we had a lot of fun, it was really a blast for me. they are amazing listeners, great inventors and communicate most sincerely through music even if their english fails them. even w/all the work in so short of time, this was righteous experience for me. when I got home to my pedro town, mr shimmy made me rough mixes of all the music we had done. he had also had mr nago (a former member of mi-gu) overdub guitar on thirteen parts. I then chose what spiels of richard’s went w/what music from us three and where in each piece his voice would be. I decided fourteen music pieces would be instrumentals so we could get as much of the three days represented as possible. I decided three poems would stand on their own, to demarcate the whole work. then mr shimmy made the final mixes, an amazing amount of work from him, respect – please understand he mixed it on that same machine (the vs-2480) he recorded us on! incredible… and econo. I then sequenced all the parts so it would sound like one whole piece and then had john golden master it.
you can’t know how happy it made me when I sent it to richard and he said he really dug it, “CRIMONY!”
– mike watt
- Spielgusher wonderfully maintains Mike Watt’s reputation as a prolific, consistent and important artist.
- Produced by Mike Watt
- Mastered by John Golden