Wednesday

DOUBLE HELIX - SELF-PROMOTION & REINVENTION


I'm back to talking about myself again, but on this occasion I'm getting someone else to do it for me. Weaponizer welcomes Skinny editor and freelance wit Alex Burden aboard, to talk about my band, Double Helix. This article appears in The Skinny in November. Pictures by Jack 'The Mack' Waddington.
- BG

"I think it’s time Edinburgh bands broke out."

- Texture, Double Helix

In this increasingly digitised and MySpace-saturated world, it's perhaps not surprising to discover a group on their way to success without playing a single live gig, but you can't help but wonder how it all works - only five years ago, telling someone that you were being given airplay on Radio One and releasing on an international basis would lead them to suspect that the greasy hands of a slick mogul were behind it.

Edinburgh-based Double Helix are doing just that, but they only have their own graft and self-promotion to thank. Texture and Sola Perplexus are the brains and talent behind Double Helix, and this year they are featuring on Crunk's Not Dead Vol 2, a compilation featuring bands on an electro, punk or hip-hop tip. The beginnings of this adventure started when DH got involved in a MySpace promo-share with Scream Club (K Records / Ipecac).

What exactly is a promo-share? "Most unsigned / self-releasing bands have good local distribution networks, and can shift 100 or so vinyls pretty easily. However, most vinyl pressing plants need you to get 1000 or so made for a 12” run, which is outside the financial means of most bands at that level," says Texture. "Scream Club’s idea was that we would all band together and release the 12” as a compilation, fitting as many bands on as possible. The 12” will be very diverse and radical – everything from the infectiously camp to the punk as fuck, from twisted electro to raucous hip-hop–meets performance art."

How did you get involved with Scream Club?

"I was speaking to Cindy Wonderful from Scream Club on MySpace about trying to book a gig in Edinburgh, which never happened in the end, Edinburgh being a place which is very hard to get decent gigs in for underground bands. Unless you play shitty Franz Ferdinand rip-off indie pish or mainstream house, you’d be better off goin' to Glasgow," muses Texture. "Scream Club are a really experimental electro / hip-hop / punk band, who have previously recorded with Peaches and Chicks On Speed. Although Double Helix are not a queer band, they liked our experimental side and were really digging the beats and lyrical conundrums of our track Complacency."

DH have already released vinyl on their own Audiodacity label, and Crystal Distortion's label Labrat Audiochemicals, so the idea of releasing their music through smaller ventures is no longer a novelty. Sola Perplexus is an old-hand at the DJ and live gig circuit now, having spent the last ten years DJing across Scotland, England and Ireland as Perplexus or his alter ego Morph. You may remember the celebrated gigs he played at Pillbox, Dogma, Lost, JakN, and Curios?, to name a few.

The group have been together for four years, reducing from a five-piece band (losing their drummer to Found) to a duo as time progressed. "We realised there was more scope for reinterpretation and improvisation that remained true to the Double Helix feel by stripping it down to just the two of us, a mic and a box of tricks," says Sola Perplexus. Their material is electro and techno influenced, but their live sets take in dubstep and breakbeat along the way: fans of Sola Perplexus' solo work will recognise the trademark 'wonk' and grinding bass, which is overlaid with Texture's poetic vocals that cover everything from high school shootings to evolutionary theory, drawing on influences such as hip-hop artist El-P ("some of his rhymes are so challenging, they provide real mental jump-off points for my own thinking..."), Edinburgh-based performance poet Jem Rolls, Spank Rock and Aesop Rock. Hints of distorted guitar wail sit alongside head-fuck techno reminiscent of Chan 'n' Mikes Records output, the hurry-up urgency of blistering breakbeat grime, the descending bass of d&b and distended electronics.

How does it feel to be going international without even playing a live single gig? "It feels great – we’ve been lucky enough to have been supported by Radio One (played by both Mary-Anne Hobbes and Gilles Peterson) on a couple of occasions, so we know there are people out there who have heard the band, and are just waiting for more releases and some gigs. We definitely feel like we’ve got something to prove – we’ve gone about the process in the opposite way from most bands... My dream would be to get together several Scottish acts and put together some kind of joint road adventure. I think it’s time Edinburgh bands broke out. I’d love to play with Penpushers, Great Ezcape or Sileni, but it will of course be a question of time and money."
Many thanks to Alex for her kind words, and to The Skinny for letting us re-post the feature. Crunk's Not Dead vinyls will be available from Double Helix's MySpace page, from http://www.crunksnotdead.com/, from Weaponizer, and from Audiodacity, not to mention independent record shops like Underground Solu'Shn and Rub-A-Dub. Release date is 20 November.

Monday

JESUS CHRIST'S INTERNET DIGEST: NO.2 IN A SERIES



"Jesus on the mainline: tell him what you want," sang Ry Cooder. In fact, to reach Jesus, you need to route your call through Systems, and ask for Big Jeezy in IT. But that doesn't matter, because here at Weaponizer, we have Jesus' direct dial. You wanna know what's happening out there in Netland? Ask Jesus! What have you got for us this week, JC?

Hello sinners! Jesus here, and I'm feeling refreshed after a week off work decorating my house with the missus. We painted six walls in a colour called 'Dead Sea Scrolls Beige', and had to spend Sunday washing the flecks out of the cat's fur. But it was worth it - the flat now has an aura of serene, middle-class blandness, which is very conducive to reading philosophy and glossy mags in easy chairs. DIY isn't my strong point - don't ask me to put up shelves - but painting, I find, can be quite therapeutic!

Speaking of people who 'do it themselves', here's to the bunch of NC State students who created the world's most powerful anti-matter beam, in the shape of a Star Trek warp reactor. Life imitating art! Scientists are convinced that anti-matter has a lot to do with the creation of the Universe - but I'm not so sure, according to Dad, he just used lots of glue and sticky tape - basically how I would go about making shelves.

Going back now to the origins of early man (no, not that Garden of Eden yarn, that's what we call 'a parable' - look it up), biologists recently came up with the theory that even some of our ancestors were ginger. I don't find this surprising - Jesus' own beard has ginger patches! Meanwhile, geneticists claim to have found the gene that allows you to speak proper English, rather than mumbling, grunting and pointing at stuff. As to whether the gene, FOXP2, actually advances communication... it's tough to say. I find that with my girlfriend and my best male friends, grunts and vague gestures are all that is required for happy conversation.


Fans of the X-Men will want to know about this - the Wolverine Movie is set for release in May '09! I'm very excited about the Wolverine movie - hopefully the director / writer will apply some of the punches pulled in Wolverine's portrayal in the main franchise. I wanna see some blood on those claws!


Contrary to popular belief, I am a big fan of Darwin's theory of evolution. It's a lot more credible than some of the bollocks they wrote about me in the Bible anyway! More evidence has been gathered by a team of paleontologists from Bristol about reptile species' origins. There's mud in the eye for those pesky Creationists!


From good to bad science - check out this feature on Oliver Curry's theory about human evolution. I don't think things are going this way - splitting the human race into two classes, one intelligent and dominant, one with low forebrows, aggressive tendencies and binge drinking problems. Or at least, if things are going this way, I think the split will be cultural rather than genetic. You can basically already divide human culture this way - I put the dividing line somewhere around the question of whether you watch football (X-Factor for girls), or whether you play online games. It's a choice, not a biological imperative, fools!


More evolutionary tomfoolery (you sense a theme?): yet more people claiming they can cure gayness. I was going to read this story at work today, but the porno-filter on my work server stopped me! That's hardly fair, supposing I was genuinely gay and wanted a cure? Well, I suppose that would be impossible anyway... it's just a Rush Limbaugh fantasy.


Finally, a link to the new NIN (Nine Inch Nails) self-publishing site - on 1 November you can buy a download of the new Saul Williams album, which was co-produced by Trent Reznor. Support internet liberation of itinerant musical geniuses! Here's an embedded player to have fun with:







Also - someone asked me for these, the links to all of Warren Ellis' very fine 'The 4am' Podcasts of unsigned artists. Download and enjoy:












Till next time...




- JC

Thursday

JESUS CHRIST'S INTERNET DIGEST: No. 1 IN A SERIES



"I talk to Jesus, Jesus, every day."

Thus spake the Kings of Leon on a recent album track, and you know what? Myself and ver 'Kings are similar in that respect. Jesus works in IT, and spends a lot of his time monitoring feedsites, and sending me links to random stuff. I thought I'd share these divine recommendations with you, so from now on, Jeezy (as I call him) will be taking over Weaponizer on a weekly basis to wow and amaze you with his ability to trancend news, and bring you only trivia. Over to you JC...

Hey everybody, Jesus here, with a dose of internet goodness for your sin-tarnished souls. As everybody knows, Star Wars isn't just a film. It's an actual set of events that occurred a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. The films are just one in a long line of attempts to re-create in documentary style the adventures of the Skywalker clan and their friends and enemies, and of course a money-making venture by my good friend George Lucas (who actually looks a bit like my Dad from some angles - but I digress.) I found this story about another recent attempt to re-create aspects of Star Wars lore by building a working X-Wing, and I must admit it had me pretty excited. With my meagre IT wages, I'll never be able to afford one, but even looking at the pictures made me slightly wet.

Another thing that got me excited this week was the news that my favourite band, Nine Inch Nails, have quit their recording contract with Interscope in order to strike out on their own, using the internet to reach their fans directly. I have always been a fan of Trent Reznor's work, and as many of you may know, the band's name was directly inspired by that nasty crucifixion incident that happened to me all those years ago, back in what is laughably called The Holy Land. Dude, if I could show you how many people were claiming Jerusalem as their One True Holy City back in the day, you'd laugh - it makes today's situation in the Middle East look laughably simple and uncomplicated! Anyway the books have it all wrong, I never claimed to be the King of any religious groups. In fact, I got crucified for wearing sandals inside a public bath-house, and because I took the heat when my good pal Judas Iscariot got caught stealing incense from the local Temple Supplies Shop. That's the last time I ever cover for a mate!

Finally, just to show you what a cultured guy I am, I'm going to recommend you check out this poem by my good buddy Tawona Sithole, who runs the Seeds of Thought poetry group in Glasgow. This poem was put on the web as part of Black History Month, which is a groovy thing to know about. I'm black, I've always been black - I don't know who the white dude with the beard is meant to represent, but it ain't me. So get some culture, innit, and read Tawona's poem, Tears of the Heart.

Finally, a lot of Christians ask themselves on a daily basis what I would do in a given situation. The question What Would Jesus Do (abbreviated to the simpler WWJD) has long bothered the consciousness of God-fearing folks, but the folks at Comedy Against Evil have got it all figured out. I mean, now you know what I'd do - I'd get an IT job and live in the suburbs and live it up, have a beer on the weekends... the usual! But this image is a great guess. Top marks for ingenuity.

That's all from me for now - more crazy links and breaking news from me next week!

- JC

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