Welcome to the first edition of Modern Soul Records' brand new mixtape-inspired feature series for CONNECT-ING TO THE BEAT, which has become more of a sub-label for me. I hope you'll join me as I continue to work from within this new 'creator zone,' in collaboration with musicians, artists, and writers that I appreciate and would like to share more of. And now...
Above Photos: Dog Faced Hermans and writer Erin Margaret Day
I am so honored that this debut feature is a collaboration between a writer and the musicians who created this particular mix together: namely, writer and cassette tape mix-master, Erin Margaret Day, and Dog Faced Hermans' members, Andy Moor, and Wilf Plum, whom Erin began communicating and collaborating with prior to her brilliant Bandcamp feature on the band. I honestly don't know if I'll ever be able to top it because it feels so epic and significant!
Everyone should most definitely read Erin's original article on the topic of Dog Faced Hermans, The Uncompromising Creative Politics of Dog Faced Hermans (published originally on Bandcamp, on June 15th, 2022) along with Erin's other articles and her writing as Come Away With EMD.
It was in fact, this Bandcamp feature that prompted us to journey into the legacy, inspirations, and collaborations of Edinburgh's Dog Faced Hermans: and, in doing so, we also have Erin, and DFH members' Wilf and Andy, to thank for collaborating and digging even deeper into their musical world and history and pulling tracks from the bands that they admired and those that were directly inspired by the existence of Dog Faced Hermans--and for sharing that here with us.
Above Photo: Dog Faced Hermans playing live
Carly: This is a very intense, and very joyful, mix of different sounds and eras that are combined here, from free jazz, to soul, post-punk, reggae and no wave. People who already appreciate Dog Faced Hermans (as well as new fans) will recognize the time and care that it must have taken to put this mix together (I'm sure). Give us a few of your favorite track highlights:
Erin: To clarify, I love this whole thing all the way through, so it’s hard to be concise (as ever).
I’m a huge fan of the opening of “Bucky Skank” basically through “English White Boy Engineer,” which captures well the vibes of disillusioned young people in the UK picking up on the liberatory energy of rebellious music from other cultures. I just feel like it does a great job of building this opening into more and more different sounds with “Zig Zag Wanderer” into “Low Rider,” communicating we’re on this journey together into all of these various sonic territories.
The Erase Errata track, “Marathon” into “Live Action” by the Hermans is an homage to the summer mixtape I am making, which that sequence also occurs on–-I just feel certain those songs are supposed to flow into one another like that. It really showcases well how inspired by Dog Faced Hermans every member of Erase Errata was, but especially in the way trumpet and vocals are arranged by Jenny Hoyston in their earlier material before she switched to playing guitar, also.
“English White Boy Engineer,” coming right after feels perfect, too, with that awesome intro–-that’s probably my favorite song that I came to know through making this and I feel like it speaks well to the aspect of the Hermans’ trajectory where they met as struggling students in the very troubling economic and political situation in Scotland. I will always be impressed by deeply political music that just absolutely rips sonically and makes you wanna turn it all the way up and sing along.
Another thing I am proud of here is the move from, “Protect Me You,” by Sonic Youth (it really shifts the attention to the bass playing) into “Hear the Dogs,” (my favorite Hermans bass line) and then, “Mutiny in Heaven” by Birthday Party comes in; Colin McLean taught himself bass playing along to Birthday Party records (as well as Joy Division and dub reggae), and I feel like ordering it that way you can hear and notice the influence on his bass technique.
We have discussed and you have written often about how mixtapes have taken on a very esoteric, spiritual, and often very 'meta' form for you. Music can be therapeutic, absolutely, as well, from the artwork to the tracks, often becoming a time capsule or record of a specific time in life--possibly transcending the very physical space that they are created in.
What is the greatest or most meta or spiritual thing that has happened to you from creating a mixtape?
Well, my spring mixtape was a very powerful love spell and basically manifested very accurately that I would fall in love on the vernal equinox, but also that it would end in heartbreak, because I included the punk version of the song “Paraguaya” by Juana Molina, which is essentially about why casting love spells is bad, but also, maybe funny or enjoyable as a game? To the extent that our relationship "ended," him canceling going to see Juana Molina with me is also basically the end. I thought a lot about whether to put that on there considering that my mixtapes do have this established history of acting as oracles or manifesting the future in various ways…but I think Juana Molina is very brave and powerful in the wild fun she has with the tragedy and comedy of love, and I aim to be like her and to make such things explicit. The big challenge for me that past season was to realize my power and my desires and to pursue them actively and accept that love is always a game of risk and always involves loss and disappointment at some point–-in this, it was a very successful exercise! The spellcaster is the author of her destiny in "Paraguaya:" creating the spell, reversing the spell. The results are messy, but she doesn't seem to have regrets.
Above, Dog Faced Hermans' Marion Coutts: music, politics, and live dance moves
What brought you to the music of Dog Faced Hermans and do you have a favorite release by the band?
So, Black Eyes were a DC post-hardcore band that have been critical to my understanding of myself and my development not just as a person, but also as a writer and a thinker. I wrote about why they are important to me for Brilliant Corners last year, and bassist/vocalist Hugh McElroy wrote to me that he found it randomly online. He was very moved and told me one of his goals in their music was always to make the music he needed when he was growing up, so it was very meaningful for him that their music absolutely was that for me. Since then, we’ve become pals on Twitter, and he mentioned Dog Faced Hermans as something he had been listening to. Apparently, he wasn’t into the Hermans during the Black Eyes days, but his band mates definitely were, so I included the song “False Positive” from their second and final release, Cough, both because that album is more free jazz-y and because it’s been Pride Month and “False Positive” is a great reminder that pride is rooted in rebellion and not all of this commodified dominant cultural bullshit.
I think the Hermans just got better and better the more they toured and got more comfortable in the studio, but I think my favorite album all the way through is Everyday Timebomb, which they are currently trying to reissue.
What is your technical setup (what equipment do you use) when creating new mixes for people? Is there any piece of equipment that you would love to have for 'future' you?
For my usual tapes I make for people, I have a totally not fancy very old Sony turntable my audio engineer ex found for me in a used electronics shop in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood for, like, $35 or something. I’ve had to replace the stylus once, but other than that, I’ve had it since 2018 and it’s been totally fine, even though I can’t make those sexy fancy turntable Instagram photos that are so popular. I have a Marantz PMD-300CP dual cassette deck and the Monoprice 27222, which is a pure tube stereo amplifier that enables me to connect to my turntable and to the cassette deck as well as Bluetooth to record from digital sources, which I do often, recording tunes from online and sampling films or weird YouTube clips. Running digitally streamed music through the pure tubes adds a lot of warmth back to them, too.
I’ve never had a really “nice” stereo until a couple years ago and it’s really just completely reactivated my obsession with music and with mixtape craft. Future me would love to stop relying on my ex-boyfriends and pals who are sound engineers to digitize and master my tapes and also to learn how to use this really nice Xone mixer my friend Dan gave me for $0 on the promise that I would use it to realize all of my great ideas for beating tracks against each other in smart and fascinating ways! So, if I could have anything, I would really like two quality turntables that are equipped for the needs of a proper DJ.
You are working on your first book that will concentrate on the impact and origins of punk and art rock in your hometown, Cleveland, and the Northeast in Ohio. Congratulations! Have you already decided on some of the artists that you'll feature in the forthcoming book and do you have a time period that you'll be focusing on?
I am still in the very beginnings of my research on this, but my present focus is on the development of punk and art rock in Northeast Ohio, from the extremely fertile proto-punk era of the late '60s into the early '70s through the equally rich post-punk period of the '80s. (Apologies in advance, I’m always currently writing my book proposal in my mind!)
In the '60s, Cleveland was culturally on par with NYC and LA–it was a test market to see if bands could break in a big way, nationally. The Velvet Underground were functionally a house band in Cleveland early on–it was necessary to make it in Cleveland for a band to be viable in that era. (Ironically, most of the incredible hometown bands never made it nationally, though, their players did if they went to larger cities like NYC.) Pioneering rock critic Jane Scott championed the Velvets early and ensured their success. An important sub-narrative in all of this is that Cleveland and Akron are just thought of as being dumb factory towns, but Cleveland in particular was really culturally advanced and had a lot of cultural resources, so despite the '70s recession, it was still possible for youth in Cleveland to encounter all sorts of wild and cutting edge art, which led to its music scene being extremely avant garde. There's also a lot of cool stuff to investigate in there around gender and sexuality and class! My favorite shit!
BUT ....the beginning is this sort of cradle of the future of rock music that Cleveland had become by the late '60s, which features Cleveland alternative publisher d.a. levy who can be seen as one of the earliest examples of 'zine writing; this early bluesy proto-punk band 15-60-75 (The Numbers Band) from Kent, Ohio, that are very important to the development of the Akron sound which resulted in bands as various as the Cramps, Devo, the Waitresses, and the Pretenders; and the early proto-punk of Cleveland’s the electric eels, Rocket from the Tombs, Pere Ubu, and those who went on to NYC to become the Dead Boys.
I’m also going to talk a lot about the NE Ohio-to-NYC pipeline of the mid-to-late '70s and make the argument that it’s really NE Ohio that truly cultivated this new sonic language that was eventually called ‘punk’ and largely credited to other places–-the amount of Clevelanders in the no wave scene is also wild and not usually attended to. I’m going to continue into the post-punk period of the '80s with bands like My Dad is Dead and Death of Samantha.
Another (and I swear, final) thought in relation to that late '60s/early '70s proto-punk period: there’s always been this connection between the death of the Civil Rights and anti- war movement of the '60s and the birth of punk music and it seems significant that the Kent State Massacre occurred in the region in relation to that.
Above Photo: the writer's desk and a wall of inspiration!
You have a wall of inspiration that includes an image of a famous Ohioan, beloved music writer, Jane Scott. Do you have a favorite article that she's written or a favorite story about Jane? How has she impacted your life or writing?
My favorite story about Jane Scott is just that she was the only music journalist that Lou Reed didn’t despise; he actually loved her very much. But, I’m from Cleveland, I love rock music, and I’m a music writer: the first rock critic being a woman from the same underdog city as me is endlessly inspiring. The fact that she held that territory for forty years as rock journalism became the fairly exclusive territory of increasingly misogynist male trash is even more inspiring.
I love that Jane Scott was totally not interested in being cool or a tastemaker: her commitment was to being a part of a musical community and reporting on it. I feel like she was good at making music and music writing more accessible to people and kind of open to anything musically–-so much music writing seems to be written for insiders only and serve to only further alienate people who aren’t super involved or knowledgeable already. Both of those aspects of her approach are a big part of my philosophy as a music writer. Her article on Pere Ubu is probably my favorite thing I have read by her, and the only reason that they really got any local attention.
David Thomas (Rocket From the Tombs, Pere Ubu) was in high school when she was first writing her rock beat column, which evolved from a column for teenagers after rock music became the biggest teenage craze, and he’s said she would always talk to the youth and ask them what high schools they went to and make them feel seen and heard, and I love that. I bet she inspired him to write for the Scene in the early '70s. Hopefully, he weathers COVID okay, so I can have more time to ask him questions while he is still with us.
What are you most looking forward to in 2022 and 2023 (for your writing or for yourself)?
I’m really looking forward to finishing this year’s seasonal mixtapes! I have summer mostly, but not totally, figured out because tapes keep self-destructing, and I’m starting to receive messages for the fall tape now! I’m also looking forward to my next Mercury Retrograde Sanity Mixtape Series in which I make one-take mixes to process my feelings and send them to whatever 15 people are the first to send me their addresses. I have four or five slots filled already, haha!
I’m really hoping to get my book proposal accepted by the #1 press I want for it and the work in process by the end of the year. I want to be deep into interviewing random motherfuckers I found in the YouTube comments of obscure regional bands who claim to have gotten a minor in 15-60-75 dancing every night while getting their art degrees at Kent State in the mid '70s by next spring! My #1 goal of this year was to do a good enough job on my Lifetime Achievement piece on Mark Edwards (My Dad is Dead) that it emboldened a reissue campaign, and there are two more releases dropping by late 2022 or early 2023, now, so I’m really looking forward to buying both of them and holding in my hands this evidence that I have achieved my goal and impacted the life of an artist that I love and the music culture, generally, in this way.
Listen to our debut collaborative mix CONNECT-ING TO THE BEAT 001 featuring tracks chosen by Chicago-based writer Erin Margaret Day (Come Away with EMD), Andy Moor (Dog Faced Hermans, The Ex), and Wilf Plum (Dog Faced Hermans, Two Pin Din). Together they take us on a fantastical journey through the music, formation, and varied influences of the brilliant band, Dog Faced Hermans, who took as much inspiration from post-punk and experimental noise rock as they did from funk, soul, free jazz, folk, and world music. It also includes a subset of tracks from the bands that followed the wandering path of the Hermans into new and inspiring sonic territories in the aughts, like Erase Errata and Black Eyes. This mix explores the beginning and the continued legacy of a band that has remained true to its political and outsider ideas throughout its discography. Enjoy!
CONNECT-ING TO THE BEAT 001:
COME AWAY WITH EMD and DOG FACED HERMANS
MIXTAPE TRACK LISTING:
01 Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Volunteered Slavery
02 Volunteer Slavery - Gangster
03 Dog Faced Hermans - Catbrain Walk
04 Bogshed - Champion Love Shoes
05 Lee Scratch Perry - Bucky Skank
06 Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - Zig Zag Wanderer
07 War - Low Rider
08 The Pop Group - Trap
09 Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim) - African Marketplace
10 James Brown - Give It Up or Turnit a Loose (Live in Paris)
11 Erase Errata - Marathon
12 Dog Faced Hermans - Live Action
13 Three Johns - English White Boy Engineer
14 James Chance and the Contortions - Dish It Out
15 Getatchew Mekuria - Aynotche Terabu
16 Big Flame - Sink
17 The Ex - White Liberals
18 Konono N°1 - Paradiso
19 A Kostis - Isouna Xipoliti (You Were Barefoot)
20 The Fall - Fiery Jack
21 Sonic Youth - Protect Me You
22 Dog Faced Hermans - Hear The Dogs
23 Birthday Party - Mutiny in Heaven
24 Don Drummond - Thoroughfare
25 Henry Cow - Bittern Storm Over Ulm
26 Bitter Funeral Beer Band with Don Cherry and
Krishnamurti Sridhar - Darafo (Live in Frankfurt, 1982)
27 Marta Sebestyen with Muzsikas - Hidegen Fujnak A Szelek
28 Black Eyes - False Positive
29 Dog Faced Hermans - Keep Your Laws/Off My Body