By Bruce Edwin
Subnormal Magazine was a hard copy print magazine created by a multi-media artist named Zadge- about music, film, and human rights that existed from 1989 to 2000. It was distributed nationwide in every major city and in fifteen countries world-wide, including Iran, China, and the U.K., as well as by mail order to the most obscure places on Earth. Anti-fascist, and a voice for individualism, it was banned in many prisons due to claims of prison wardens that it would ‘start a riot.’ It toured the states twice, once with Usherhouse and The Phantom Chords featuring Dave Vanian of the legendary punk band The Damned and members of The Stray Cats, as well as punk pioneer Eva O. of Superheroines, and the iconic Christian Death, and later booking its own national tour for one journey, with bands including the seminal Sunshine Blind, and EXP featuring Paris of Shadow Project and Christian Death- the band created by Rozz Williams.
As the major record labels began buying up the indie labels and consequently commercializing yet again- so called punk rock, certain mags at the time including Maximum Rock N’ Roll, Flipside, Subnormal, Industrial Nation, Permission, Propaganda, and some others- could not be bought. As we outgrew ourselves, instead of becoming like the next so called alternative multi-national corporate backed rock mags we hated, we instead completed publishing our print creation, and went on then instead to make a number of obscure, avant garde films at film school in Chicago. We hit the road one last time with final stops in New Orleans, San Francisco, San Jose, and lastly Hawaii.
Despite a few gripes when we turned down a handful of some pop and rock stars for press or interviews; the labels always seemed to love us, and despite our few grievances, treated us great throughout those many sweat drenched, rock infested years where we partied not only like a rock star, but we partied ‘with’ the rock stars, either backstage, or on the tour buses, five, six, sometimes seven days a week, year after year. If the rock and roll lifestyle wasn’t enough to kill us, it’s only because we were smart enough to stay just close enough to “the edge” to not go over to the point of no return. We lived fast and saw it all, yet somehow prevailed.
Times have changed. To those few of you still with some independent brain cells left, this is for you – and of course, to those of you who disagree – this is especially for YOU. ‘Nothing’s Shocking’ here. We’ll ease you in slowly. After all, brainwashing is done best over the long haul.
Welcome to our new writer, Lexa Vonn. I had the pleasure to meet Lexa many years ago after being a fan of her incredible band at the time- Ophelia Rising. Since then, Lexa has gone on to become a successful indie rock journalist covering the local scene in Los Angeles, and interviewing some of the coolest musicians of our time. Ever since I have known Lexa, she has always been true to herself, and a pro. Comments to Lexa concerning her coverage here can be addressed to her on the front page of this issue. – z.
30 Seconds to Mars
Ricardo Montalban Theatre
VIP Screening of “Hurricane”
By Lexa Vonn
There was a line that stretched around the block, as I walked up to the Ricardo Montalban Theatre. Dozens of die-hard fans, press, and family of the band gathered for the first glimpse of the completely uncut, uncensored 13 minute, 13 second version of 30 Seconds to Mars video / film, “Hurricane.”
The video’s reputation precedes itself as it has already been banned across the globe and been the subject of moral outrage. Ironic for a piece that accompanies a song with the lyrics “Tell me would you kill to save a life, would you kill to prove you’re right, crash crash let it all burn, the hurricane’s, the hurricane’s chasing us all underground.” So, what images were so offensive as to cause such controversy?
Well, there were many themes presented in this video including those of religious and political nature however, it was the sex scenes (s&m to be precise) that caused such a stir. I personally didn’t think the imagery was any more explicit than what one might view in Madonna’s “Erotica” or Nine Inch Nails “Closer” videos, both of which were also subject to censorship in their day. “Hurricane” didn’t feature any blood or unwelcome brutality. In fact, everyone looked like they were having a pretty good time in this video, which is more than I can say for the six o’ clock news. While there is lots of leather, latex, and bondage… even a flash of nipple- I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. It basically goes back to the fact that much of society is still really uncomfortable with sex and sexual expression.
Singer Jared Leto, who was on hand along with the rest of the band made an excellent point. “We live in a world where we are told we should love each other and be making love to each other but when someone shows that in art, suddenly no one wants to deal with it. Yet when we’re at war blowing each other up, everyone is glued to the TV.” It was a point my hippie mother argued many times while defending why she let us watch MTV over football or the news.
I found it interesting that the sex scenes seemed to cause more controversy than the use of military caskets or a scene that depicted a priest, a rabbi, and a Muslim clergyman tossing their bibles into a fire. In fact, I feel sorry for those that can’t see beyond the titillating imagery to get to the deeper stuff. This is a work of art that was beautifully shot and contained many spiritual and esoteric messages for those looking. Hidden in the video were subliminal flashes and phrases about God spoken in French.
I feel that there are many ways to interpret this piece and I’m not sure that writing about my personal interpretation would do it justice. Perhaps this is why the band was dodgy at best when questioned about much of the symbolism during the fan q&a that followed. What Leto did offer us was the following confession: “I know that there are those people out there that catch things and like to look deeper into them, so there are some things in there that we put in as a kind of ‘wink wink’ from us to them.” Good to know, because I am definitely one of those people and I believe all art carries messages to us from God (s?). Check out the uncensored video at jared-leto.net and judge for yourself.
Thirty Seconds to Mars; This Is War (15 tracks here +DVD of 6 clips with a total of 49 minutes)
30 Seconds to Mars is – for those of you hiding under a rock – led by pretty boy Jared Leto that the girls seem to all know and love. This band has been around a while, but this release- their label seems to be P.R.ing the heck out of, and for good reason. No, it’s not due to that silly ‘Bad Romance’ cover here, or even the bonus version of ‘Hurricane’ with Kayne West on guest vocals that actually ends up working, but instead, it’s the formula this band hit on itself. There are tracks on this CD including Kings and Queens (that cool video for it is here included) This is War, Hurricane, and more. The only thing is here, that the formula doesn’t change much at all, with some of the songs here sounding like reworked versions of the former, along with that atmospheric mix of crowd choruses echoing in the background . Despite this however, that crowd mix works quite well here, the songwriting is outstanding, and Jared Leto is really a great vocalist. The band here is super tight, expertly produced, and really has outdone themselves creating some truly great anthemic tunes full of spirit, passion, and hard driving rock. With great atmosphere, power, and feeling burned on this disc, the greatness of 30 Seconds to Mars cannot be denied. Check it out.
–zadge (Virgin Records)
NINE INCH NAILS
As we always said, ‘Subnormal didn’t go Hollywood, Hollywood went Subnormal.” With that stated, we’re glad to see here that we’re not the only freaks running around on the red carpet. After all, there’s Tim Burton, that nutty weirdo in the green suit this year, and now, one of our favorite rebels in disguise – Trent Reznor in a beard and a penguin suit. Trent won of course for the category of best Achievement in music written for motion picture, for the Original Score to the film of The Social Network. Atticus Ross also composed along with Trent Reznor and shares in the creation and the award. Subnormal brings you here, with courtesy from those sell outs at the Hollywood Sentinel, this backstage interview at The Oscars with Hollywood’s latest mind warp.
Trent Reznor: Backstage Interview at The Academy Awards
Q. What does winning the Oscar mean to you, and what your plans now musically?
A. Trent Reznor: Well, I can say that I am truly stunned by this. I mean, we kind of fell into this. David Fincher approached us to work on this film, he kind of bugged us to do it. I'm very glad he did. It was an incredible working experience and a lot of fun and very rewarding. We never even considered that we would be getting an award, certainly at this magnitude, but it's been very, very flattering and it's high praise. So, future projects, we're both working on David's next film, ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.’
Q. I've been a huge of Nine Inch Nails… What prompted you to shift to compose this type of music from such a rock and roll type of music?
A. Trent Reznor: Well, I kind of put Nine Inch Nails on the back burner for awhile, try to branch out, try some different things. Film wasn't particularly what I was had any career trajectory aiming for that necessarily. But when David approached me to do that, a lot of the music he was using for a very temporary edit, was based on the Ghost records that Atticus and I both worked on with Nine Inch Nails. So, it wasn't a side of my Nine Inch Nails nature that was soundtrackish, so it wasn't hugely a giant stretch for me to try this. So, it was interesting to have to work with a picture and actually serve the picture and that was the biggest challenge. David Fincher was very clear about what he wanted, and it was an education and, as I said earlier, it was a real pleasant one- one of the best experiences I've had from start to finish.
Q. You said David Fincher gave you specific direction or really knew what you wanted; was there kind of an overwhelming or over arching theme he had for you guys?
A. Trent Reznor: Well, we had read the script and David called us in and said, the only immediate direction was, "I don't want to use an orchestra. I would like it to feel kind of electronic." He referenced a couple films. ‘Blade Runner’ was one of them. Not to sound like Blade Runner, but to inhabit -to have a score that felt like the same iconic quality that the music Blade Runner had in its time. Not something that sounds like that or sounds dated, but might (sound like that) today. And the thing with David though, and I think this is where we hit the mark right from the start, is David is never making things up on the fly. And it was difficult at first for us to see a film or read a film and read a script that was a bunch of people talking in rooms. It was no great sweeping landscapes or battle scenes or anything like that and it wasn't obvious to us what flavor or kind of shape the music was going to have. And David - I knew he had an idea of what would make this picture special and that kind of rested on the music. We just generated blindly with no picture. We wrote almost two hours worth of music, just to give him, say, "Hey, it feels to us like the emotional temperature of this film," and what could be interesting and a little darker than I thought he was going to react to it. And that became 90 percent of what you heard in the picture.
And really, it came down to the pedigree of Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher is what attracted us, just the idea of scoring the film of the founding of Facebook doesn't sound like a great idea, doesn't sound like a great film. When we read the script, we knew this is a very smart and very intelligently written film; how can we make it, how can we make it feel kind of human and not just what could be unlikable people jousting verbally, you know.
Q. Are there any popular artists whose music you listen to, who you'd encourage or like to see a score from, going forward?
A. Trent Reznor: Well, I think, you know, I've befriended Hans Zimmer in this process of battling him at award shows, all these things had come up. And he said in a lot of ways, "I hope that your score does win because a vote for it opens the field up a bit, the textures what one can expect in film." And I personally would like to do a very traditional score with an orchestra, but I also see where, I think that the there's a general sense of conservatism in scores these days, and I think it can branch out into stuff and has a little richer palette and whiter palette with sound. And I was very impressed we actually won this with a very nontraditional sounding score. And I say that, with all due respect. I think it may encourage a number of artists who hadn't thought in terms of rigid film scoring, that there's a possibility out there to work in film and make something interesting, a bit different.
© 2011, The Hollywood Sentinel, with kind courtesy of the Academy. © 2011, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, All rights reserved.
Why The Grammy Awards are of The Devil By Zadge
The Grammy Awards reported viewership this year, for 2011 was- according to their site, sixty six million and six hundred thousand viewers. Not 66.59, and not 66.9 mind you, but 66.6, you know, the number of The Beast. If that doesn’t convince you that The Grammy Awards is of the Devil, then you missed the Anti-Christ herself hatching out of her fat little egg – Lady Ga Ga, you know, the woman who – when she’s not strapping slabs of meat on her ass, grabbing her crotch and licking chicks in Nun garb, gal pals with Satan’s disciple himself – Marilyn Manson. But if even this isn’t enough to convince you of the Satanic Panic of the Grammy Awards, then I have just two words to convince you of our case for the Grammy’s consort with the devil – Justin Bieber.
Hollywood Hot Spot
Here are our hottest picks for the next few months for a great time in Los Angeles. If you're lucky, you just might catch us or some of our sexy friends at one of the events here below.
26, Seth MacFarlane and His Big Band, Nokia
28, Lady Ga Ga, Staples – SOLD OUT
29, OMD, Music Box
The Sounds, Avalon
31, Lady Ga Ga, Honda, SOLD OUT
1, Uh Huh Her, El Rey
2, Mr. Big, House of Blues, Sunset Blvd.
7, Rise Against, Long Beach Arena
8, Arlo Guthrie, Royce Hall
Jeff Beck, Fox Theatre, Pamona
9, Bryan Adams, Royce Hall
14-16, Janet Jackson, Santa Barbara Bowl
15-17, Coachella, Empire Polo Field
17, Stevie Nicks and Rod Stewart, Hollywood Bowl
20, Bad Brains, plus others, The Greek
23, Robert Plant & The Band of Joy, Greek Theatre
Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Empire Polo Field
25, Robert Plant and The Band of Joy, Santa Barbara Bowl
8, Diddy Dirty Money, Grove of Anaheim
20, Kylie Minogue, Hollywood Bowl
Rammstein, The Forum
21, Echo & The Bunnymen, Nokia
27, Glee, Honda
28, Glee, Staples
10, Deftones, Palladium
13, Florence & The Machine, Greek
18, U2, Angels Stadium
16, The Monkees, The Greek Theatre
20 & 22, Rush, Gibson Amphitheatre (Moving Pictures)
28, Rihanna, Staples
29, Rihanna, Honda
19, 20, Sada, Staples
27, 28, Taylor Swift, Staples
30, Sade, Honda
subnormal magazine, 2011.