Boy Dirt Car — A Joyful Noise

image courtesy of Myspace
Milwaukee Noise Fest (Thursday, September 25th-Saturday, September 27th) will be offering locals a pretty complete lesson in the truly loose term that is ‘music’. Forever a term-defied, nobody in the city was more defiant than Boy Dirt Car, Milwaukee’s first footprints of noise music, formed in 1981 by Darren Brown and Eric Lunde.

Playing shows with Sonic Youth, appearing in Ann Landers columns and wreaking general sonic havoc was all in a day’s work for the original group comprised of Brown, Lunde, Keith Brammer, T.S. Wahlen, Dan Kubinski and Dave Szolwinski. Described as “[creating a] sound not like being in a car crash, but of being under one”, Boy Dirt Car pushed the limits of their boundaries, both near and far. Perhaps there were never any boundaries to begin with? This is apparent, as Boy Dirt Car has just released fresh music and are now partially reunited to make an undeniably indelible performance at the Borg Ward this Saturday. Fan-belt‘s Erin Wolf speaks with Darren Brown about history, technology and the future of music with no boundaries.

Milwaukee Noise Fest is the first live performance Boy Dirt Car will make since the 80s, and there’s newly released music (Spoken Answer to a Silent Question). What was the impetus for creating music as Boy Dirt Car again: recording, releasing and playing a show?

Survival. Boy Dirt Car was never to be taken lightly, it’s a hearty breed of survivors that have taken to the stage and studio.

Some of our collaborators are unable or unwilling to join us in our twenty-seven year re-emergance at Milwaukee Noise Fest. Spoken Answer to a Silent Question was created in 2006 and released in 2007. So, it would seem that 2008 is the year to have the opportunities of collaborating with old friends to record and perform.

Could it also be a response to the musical environment in the city now, with events such as Milwaukee Noise Fest and enigmatic musicians and collaborators such as Peter J Woods solidly backing noise music?

Forward with abandon — using our collective past as stepping stone. I am encouraged and proud of the current situation in Milwaukee. The city has a long tradition of supporting original and experimental music. Boy Dirt Car was active in the 1980s; that was a vibrant time in Milwaukee, but Boy Dirt Car has always had a strong isolationist stance.

How did the change in recording/instrument technology change the approach to writing and recording from the last Boy Dirt Car release to this one?

All pre-2006 Boy Dirt Car recording projects we made on multi-track 1/4″ tape or cassette. No digital recording at all. We begged, brewed and stole our way into simple home recording studios. Spoken Answer to a Silent Question was shaped in a digital era. The multi-track first version of the project was lost when the only hard drive containing our recordings was destroyed.

We were left with rough mixes that were used as the bed tracks providing direction to Spoken Answer to a Silent Question. The vocals were recorded in Seattle and added to the final mixes.

Who were Boy Dirt Car’s local supporters and enthusiasts in the 80s? How has the receptiveness of the environment for noise music (your music was labeled as ‘industrial’ back then) changed?

Wall Street Journal labeled us ‘junk rock’ in ’86.


The ‘top ten’ on the wall of shame:

1. Glenn Branca encouraged us to just make it happen for ourselves.

2. Tense Experts — we used their space and gear when they were on the nod.

3. University of Wisconsin (especially art school) — our first gigs.

4. Die Kreuzen — collaborations and supporters who took us on the road (and why not? If you are too young to recall, Die Kreuzen f*ckin ruled the world. You would have never seen a harder-working pop group).

5. Tony Selig — booked us on many shows with Psychic TV, Sonic Youth, TSOL, Fred Frith…also presented Boy Dirt Car countless times at his club, The Underground. Joined in on the Metal as well. Bless him; R.I.P. Good man.

6. F/i — introduced us to RRR for our first LP release.

7. RRR — released three vinyl LPs

8. …

9. Bill Stace, aka ‘Pa Dot’ — first recorded us.

10. Anne Landers introduced us to the nation.

Photo courtesy of Myspace

Is Boy Dirt Car’s reappearance a fleeting thing, or are there plans to write and record more in the future?

Check with me after the show on Saturday.

Yes, we are recording, doing performances and rehearsals, and I hope to put out a live album of the noise festival appearance to share with the world. The first Boy Dirt Car double live LP RRR Records released in 1986 is in the process of being re-issued for the first time on compact disc in Poland.

So, the Boy DIrt Car virus spreads in our absence through the Lexicon Devil re-issues…

What/who has got your attention in noise music in Milwaukee right now, and what do you think about the terms ‘noise’ and ‘shit-gaze’? Is this type of music forever unpin-able to a term or genre, or does the word ‘noise’ suit it?

I currently reside with my wife of twenty years and daughter in Minneapolis. My recent experience in Milwaukee was November, 2007 when TEXAR (my duo with Rick McCollum) performed at Hotcakes Gallery. TEXAR received a wonderful reception, performing on a bill with Karl Paloucek. That kind of opened my eyes to the current Milwaukee experimental scene. ‘Shit-gaze’ is a new category to me. Not sure if we have this scene in Minneapolis. We have Ice Volt in the northland. Which Milwaukee composers are ‘shit-gaze’? Are there going to be ‘shit-gazers’ on the festival bill? I better check with Peter J Woods about ‘shit-gazers’…

This is the legacy of Boy Dirt Car.

We make a joyful noise.

Boy Dirt Car will appear as part of Milwaukee Noise Fest on Saturday, September 27th at The Borg Ward, 823 W. National Avenue. 6:00 p.m. door, 7:00 p.m. show. More information can be found *here*.

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