Gary Young interviewed by Jack Hertz
Music From the Film the is the current group headed up by Gary Young out of Upper Marlboro, MD. The master of the mindless, Gary is to blame for such acts as Entfred, Bone Bunny and his legendary Irrelevant radio show on WMUC at University of Maryland.
Above, the Music From The Film CD, “World War Tree” from 2009.
Before the group was called Music From The Film, they were know as “New Killers On The Block”. A promo poster and also cassette cover above.
Gary Young was also a member of The Drooling Zoomers, a group from Baltimore, Maryland. You can see the poster made from cardboard where they opened for :zoviet*france: in 1991.
Below, the 2009, 7” record by Music From The Film, “Crushface” b/w “Bit”. It came with a special cardboard device for playing the record in a “warped” way and also a paper insert with a map, credits, a radio station schedule and a playing card of Lt. Gen. Kelly from the Desert Storm series.
Other images included with this record below.
How did you find out about and what year did your involvement with the tape scene begin?
In 1987, I moved into a group house that had a name, “The International Entropy Annex”, and the people who lived there had a band called “The Drooling Zoomers”. I was a big metal head at the time, just discovering bands like Black Flag, the Butthole Surfers, and numerous others, so I was in a time period of my life where I was highly influenced by what was going on around me. The Drooling Zoomers put out several cassette tape releases that eventually grew on me a great deal. I considered them absolute geniuses, and to be able to share a house with them was great. Within a few months I was a member of the band and every time we played I was extremely excited. Mainly due to the unpredictability of it all.
It’s hard to explain. The other members of the band absolutely blew me away with their improvisations and chemistry. They introduced me to the “mail art” scene and cassette culture in general. They were older than me by a few years and when the time came they graduated and moved on, and I stayed behind and tried to keep the IEA alive. It was at this time that I decided to devote a lot of my life to Irrelevance. Then I started putting out my own cASSettes under the moniker New Killers On The Block along with Mike Dougherty. They were very limited, 30 copies was the biggest run we did and we traded them with other bands from around the U.S. cASSettes were so easy to do, and we actually had a sponsor who paid for the entire run of stock, stationery and postage, albeit unbeknownst to the sponsor. I won’t divulge further.
Where did your name “Music From the Film” come from?
I wanted a kind of generic term that is used a lot. There is or was a
local band around Maryland called “Rest Area” and I thought that was a pretty cool idea. You see their signs on the interstate all over the nation. Free advertising. I decided to do the music to a bunch of
imaginary films and then maybe someone else will eventually get around to making the actual films to go with them. So, the music comes before the film in this case. So far, none of them have gotten to the big screen yet. Maybe I should have called it Music FOR The Film. I like to be vague. But I’m not really submitting them to any film makers or anything.
You used to work under the name “Entfred?”
Yes, back in the mid 1990’s. It was supposed to be a more straight
forward version of New Killers On The Block. It actually got a review that compared it to Chrome! Entfred came a few years after the Drooling Zoomers. We were the “stamp band”. I altered an “ENTERED” stamp the post office uses. I just cut off part of the second E so it was an F and stamped that on everything. We all had fake names. In Entfred, my name was Adam Savage and Ahmed Mouvil was Arthur Harrison in real life. Christopher Banks was Mike Dougherty and Paco Morales was fellow IEA resident Aaron Schellinck. Our second tape, ENTIAL, implemented the stamp that the post office called CONFIDENTIAL, sans the letters CONFID.. Made sense at the time and fit in with the motif.
What excited you about the early days in the underground music scene?
The novelty of it all was quite refreshing. I stumbled across the right
people in college that were doing things that not only challenged
themselves but those around them. And they came from all walks of life, diverse yet compatible. The underground scene, at least in Maryland at the time, was totally unpredictable and made me feel really “swirly” if that makes any sense. One of the best parts of it was the non-pretentiousness of the scene. Nobody really took themselves too seriously and I think the overall result was very unique. A couple of the local bands were really creative. Stolen Government Binder Clip and New Carrollton were very cutting edge, made a lot of the instruments they played and used contact mics to great effect. I remember seeing New Carrollton once in the WMUC studios using a mic’d umbrella. They’d open and close the umbrella and the mic’d signal would be processed through some effects resulting in a totally unique sound. They mic’d up a dartboard that night too, and during their set they’d occasionally throw a dart at the board lending some cool sounds. Listening to a cd of it gives a different effect, but seeing it play out was very influential and the memory of it is still very vivid in my head. I’ve seen a lot of similar things play out over the years, but that particular show was very memorable. Locally, Carl Merson’s cassette label “Megalomania Tapes” and Jack Hurwitz label “Poison Plant” were the main inspirations that led to my confidence in releasing my own material.
Tell us about your radio show on WMUC at the University of Maryland?
At first I started out with a nameless Thursday 3-6am show. I played a lot of Zappa, Black Flag and punk bands. After I discovered Negativland’s “A Big 10-8 Place”, my direction changed entirely. That album was an epiphany to me. When I landed the Saturday Midnite to 3am show, I called it “The Irrelevant Show” and it lasted about 10 years with a few years hiatus in the middle. It encompassed all kinds of music, but I had a special affinity for a lot of Amphetemine Reptile bands and weird and obscure stuff. The New Killers On The Block tapes I was putting out generated several amazing trades and finds (Evolution Control Committee, Oliver Squash, Empty Boat People, Crazy Mixed Up Peterson Mixes, Eeyore Power Tool, and many others) were finding their way to my mailbox. I was in no way alone though. I learned a lot from other DJ’s at that station. The music library was very eclectic and the vibe was incredible most of the time.
There were a lot of live jams on the show. Who were some of the people who played with you over the years?
The majority of the live shows we did up there I did with my good friend and sort of mentor, The Porcupine (Mike Dougherty). He did a Tuesday night show and played a lot of ethnic and dark, obscure stuff (Zoviet France, Protection, Diamanda Galas, SPK, Einsturzende Neubauten to jungle bands from Africa and other ethnic sources). He pretty much taught me the intricacies of the board and how to plug things into it and what did and didn’t work (he was the station engineer at the time). He was also in the Drooling Zoomers, but he didn’t live at the IEA. He had a “remote” location if you will. The two of us were The New Killers On The Block. Those were some hectic and fuzzy nights so I don’t remember all of the participants who came up to jam with us, but I know a few members of Psychodrama did one night. We did a lot of sessions up in that studio. Sometimes every week for 6 months or so, and plenty of times the stuff we were sending out over the airwaves was absolutely horrible! I listen to some of them today and wonder what the hell I was thinking at the time. But it didn’t really matter. This was a 10 watt station with a radius of MAYBE 10 miles and there was no internet at the time.
I understand you have a large collection of those talking books with the sound chips on them. What’s that all about?
Yes, whenever I go into a thrift store, I buy all the kids books that
have the sound wands attached to them. Kids read the books and when prompted, press a button on the sound wand to enhance the story in the book. So far I have a hundred or so of these. I threw all the books away and kept the wands. I sample the sounds into cheap Casio SK-1 keyboards and play the keyboards with my feet as I play bass or guitar or something else. I can change the pitch with the keyboards. It’s very crude but it works well I think. I want to alter them so I can plug them into a PA. Right now I use the little speakers that are built into them.They are very cheap but have their charm.
How has your latest CD release “World War Tree” been received?
As well as I expected I guess. I made 1,000 of each of the cd’s and sent about 700 of each out mainly to radio stations and magazines around the world. I have more luck with radio than with magazines though. I’ve only sold a few copies, but that’s ok. I am not approaching this as a money making endeavor and whenever someone discovers my music and shows an interest I want for them to have it, free of charge. That’s what’s most important I guess. Getting them into receptive hands and into receptive ears. I have a job that pays the bills.
You just released a Seven Inch 45rpm – BIT b/w CRUSHFACE single with an interesting option for the person to play it in different ways. Can you tell us more about that?
It’s the recording I’m most proud of. It’s orange. It took way longer to get pressed than I anticipated. I had all the inserts, liner notes, cover art, etc. weeks before I had the actual record. The wait was very frustrating, so I needed something to do while I waited. I knew the 45 was going to have the big hole that jukeboxes use, and mentioning this brought up the subject of where to find the adapters to play them. Not everybody has them or lost the ones they have. Back in my radio days, several of us used to play records off center all of the time, and the kind of music for this particular record in no way demands a straight forward approach. So in the meantime, I figured I’d provide my own adapter for the record. I used one of the standard adapters I have and traced it 522 times onto cardboard and cut them out. I then used a hole punch to punch three off-center holes into the cardboard so the listener can have several choices on playback. There are two songs. They can be played at 33 rpm or at 45 rpm. The adapter has three holes in it. That is 6 different ways per side to play it. However, if you pop the adapter out and put it back into the record differently, you can have 6 additional mixes and so on. So theoretically, one could play the record hundreds of times without hearing exactly the same mix. That being said, I heard the B side played on WXYC in Chapel Hill, NC at 78rpm, and it
sounded Middle Eastern. I didn’t even consider 78rpm or 16rpm, so that adds a few different ways of playing it as well and there is always backwards. I personally prefer the 45rpm warp mix. With the adapter, it adds a woozy effect as the record plays oblong. It’s appealing to look at too. Part of the record speeds up while another part slows down, but the time length is the same either way. The music itself doesn’t really vary much from beginning to end, but implementing the provided adapter definitely alters the playback immensely and I’m very pleased with the end result. There is also included in the packaging my “TV Guide” for the radio. This is personalized to my own discoveries and tastes, but it gives an idea to the wealth of sonic alternatives in the world that can be captured in one’s own home with an internet connection. I’m still discovering new sources of excellent radio all the time. The guide I included in the record has changed a lot. Many of those shows are gone and many of the others got bumped off the list due to new discoveries I made and general lack of time to listen to it all.
Talk about some of the other artists you have worked with?
From the beginnings of my sonic experiments to this present day, I’ve never considered myself an “artist” or a “musician”. But I have worked with a few. Arthur Harrison and I were the project “Bone Bunny”, which was more electronic in nature. In the 90’s I did a cASSette collaboration with Jared Peterson who ran a tape label called Tapes Of Wrath out of New Hampshire. Drooling Zoomers had plenty of people sit in with us, I don’t recall all of them. I know Karl Kriemelmeyer played drums with DZ a few times. Brad Rudich who did a solo project called Infindibulum joined us a few times. Scott Larson sat in a few sessions with NKOTB. He was the main instigator in DZ and also did his own incredible solo stuff and stuff with Little Gruntpack among a few others. Rupert Chappelle sat in with NKOTB a few times. I know I’m forgetting many people here. My favorite collaborators usually end up being people who have never touched an instrument before.
What are the favorite releases you have done?
For me, the current seven inch is the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m
proud of it and it’s really the only recording I’ve ever done that had a specific purpose. It was sort of commissioned, not with money, but it was custom built for The Garden Of Earthly Delights, a radio show presented by Shane Quentin on Cable Radio Milton Keynes in England. So it was the first time I ever entered my own studio with a timeline. I took a week off work and treated that week off as if it were a work week at my new job, constructing music! I woke up early in the morning each day and descended into the basement and didn’t come up until late evening and repeated that until the project was finished. The end result was six new tracks, two of which ended up on the seven inch. The other four I make available on my Soundcloud page, but they were all broadcast in England on December 10, 2009. Playfully Abrasive and World War Tree I
also consider being much better than the stuff I did decades ago, but
then again, I’m working with real equipment in a real studio now. Also high on my list are two cASSettes I put out in the late 1990’s: New Killers On The Block Vs. Entfred and Entfred Vs. Bone Bunny. The first Entfred tape, just called Entfred is also one of my best cASSettes.
How the internet has affected what you do now?
I’ve been thinking about that actually. It’s like the new candy store.
When I was a kid, my family traveled every year to my parents’ hometown in Pennsylvania. There was nothing to do there, but I did look forward to going to George’s Penny Candy store. I’d give him a few dollars and he’d fill a bag with candy and I was happy. When I was in college, there was a record store in Silver Spring, MD called “Vinyl Ink”, and it was run by a gentleman named George Gelestino. During those years, he filled the role of the candy store from my youth, only his candy was sonic. The whole DC area owes a lot to that store and may George rest in peace. Sadly, he passed away on my birthday in 2002. He got taken from us way too early. I learned a lot about music from his store and from WMUC. Now the internet serves that role (not that there aren’t any good record stores still around). It’s totally opened the door. There is a lot of really cool stuff going on internationally. Whenever someone tells me music is dead these days, I have proof that they are misguided. I thought that too until I dug deeper. Turning off the TV helped to fine tune my radio preferences and opened up a whole new world.
What do your friends and family think of your work?
I have very limited appeal and I like it that way. My first CD,
“Playfully Abrasive”, I handed out left and right, even to people who I knew would hate it. To this day I can’t figure out why I’d do something like that because I’ve never really sought acceptance. I learned my lesson though. Not everyone is going to like what I do and I’d much rather have my “music” in the hands of someone that enjoys it than in someone’s hands just because they know me. It’s made to be played and not sit on a shelf as a token.
Can you give us your take on what’s wrong or right with today’s current music industry / non-industry?
The “Industry” is evil. Always was. The majority of the people making money in the “Industry” have absolutely no part in the creative process. They get paid based on the creativity of others and their ability to get it into the mainstream. That’s the way it is. The majority of the consumers don’t seem to have the knowledge of this or don’t seem to care. You have to really search hard to find music that is worthy these days because it certainly isn’t presented to the public on any mainstream platform. We get fed the crap and somebody is eating it big time, keeping the vicious circle alive. The consumers are half the problem. They accept what is offered and put very little effort into giving themselves alternative options. The options are out there. You have to expend a little effort to make them available. Anybody who lives within terrestrial range of a good freeform radio station may be an exception to the rule, but they are few and far and usually have weak signals. I know I was a different person the moment I heard freeform radio for the first time. My horizons changed entirely.
What are you working on next?
Right now I’m recording. LOTS. I’ll get 10 or 20 hours of stuff and then cull through it, siphoning off the good parts and fleshing them out further. I’m way behind though. Most of the stuff we do will never see the light of day. I’m currently working with a drummer as well, Brett Gross. He’s a co-worker of mine that used to be in a few Michigan bands in the 90’s (Philo Beddow, Fade, Underworld as well as a few cover bands). I don’t think he has a background in the kind of improvisational noise that me and Arthur have been making for decades, which is a major plus. It keeps it fresh and new and gives him a lot of space (I think) to be creative. He is an incredible rock drummer and really easy to get along with. There were a few songs on World War Tree that I used Brett as a metronome on. He came over, laid down a bunch of drum tracks that I later built all kinds of other sounds around. When it came down to the actual mixdown, Ii accidently muted the drum tracks so that all I was hearing was the stuff I built around the drums. It sounded so good to me in this form that I removed the drums and went with what was left. The new stuff we are doing we are tentatively calling “Mr. B.A.G.” (as in Mr. Brett Arthur Gary). I’m also beginning to do some field recordings of nature. I just captured a wood boring bee burrowing into a wooden table on my front porch. They have teeth and you can hear them biting the wood. I may mix that with the percussive sounds of a washing machine or some other nature sounds. I’m going to work some more with my cats too.