Hi, my name is Patrick Hambrecht, and I was in a band called Flaming Fire. I recently ended this band as it was so that we could do strange things. Heidegger says that creation is the act of throwing a rock into chaos, into madness, outside of the magic circle of normalcy. You then build a bridge to that rock, creating an associative understanding of that rock, so that everyone in the normal circle is forced to accept the language necessary to internalize and accept the chaos around the rock. Some people really hate this, and they will tell you so. I like it.
Once Flaming Fire used to be weird—we were a Greco-Roman chant band, based our whole style on that Indonesian chant that Fellini used in Satyricon, and screamed about Jesus and the moon to backwards tape loops. Then we decided that FF could be like a movie set, and that we could hypnotize one another into being a metal band, and then the FF atmospherics could attack the metal band, like if Ratt were in Hellraiser. We hypnotized each other so well, we forgot why we were hypnotized. This lasted about five years. But now the weird things are normal. Would you like to help me do weird, new things?
Here's what’s on for 2009:
1. FLAMING FIRE FITNESS
We need runners who are willing to sing, play guitar (it's easy, we can teach you), or play a rhythmic instrument while running. In contrast to NYC marching bands (or most marching bands anywhere else, I suppose), FFF will not play funky klezmer type music. This is a fine thing to do, but a lot of people are already doing it. Instead, FFF will perform at full gallop and play original songs with a few metal and punk covers thrown in. Also, we'll be much faster than a marching band, because we'll be running. We'll participate in city races (Race Against Cancer, Race Against Migraines, Let's Run for NASA, stuff like that) and also run to gigs. Once we run to the gig, the runners will strongly encourage the audience to dance in a frenzied, aerobic fashion to songs specifically designed to combine spirituality with physicality. This concept is new to 2009 in NYC, but it's exactly what used to happen at a good ancient satyr play or body-beautiful Hebrew ark veneration. It's what God wants you to do. And you'll be healthy. This is tribal in organization, not like a gym or job. Meaning you decide to cross the street for yourself, and decide for yourself if you want to risk shin splints or getting hit by a bus.
Our first running gig is at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn on Friday, April 24. It'll begin about a mile away, and then continue inside the venue when we get there.
FLAMING FIRE FITNESS SEEKS: singers, guitarists, drummers, flag bearers; and for stage we need someone to play bass and someone to play keyboards, tuneful female drag queens (aka costume-and-wig-hoarding glammy lady extroverts), charasmatic fitness/aerobics instructors, knob tweakers (people who enjoy ring-modulating and adding live creative effects to analog instrument sounds), make-your-own-electro types, country singers (the kind who can make you cry), tuneful male drag queens (if they can sing like ladies), bass-voiced men (like the dude from the Oak Ridge Boys), a videographer, and finally stage moms and bossy manager types.
2. AVANT-GARDE GLITCHY SQUARE DANCE MUSIC
Country music (aka the populist blues) is the most intelligent—and interesting—musical narrative art form in America. Conversely, hip-hop, pop and the electronic avant-garde (noise, glitch, etc.) continue to technologically innovate, thereby justifying themselves.
In this spirit, Flaming Fire has created AAAA Locksmiths and Bail Bonds. Each of our country songs is fully soaked in the latest pop, metal and glitch inventions of our age, and you can jig, square dance, or waltz to every last one of ‘em.
FOR THIS WE SEEK: square dancers; cloggers or those who would like to learn; serious, imaginative country session musicians capable of chicken-picking over a song you haven’t heard before, and making the song sound better; electronic/noise/laptop/glitchy geniuses capable of both playing roughly the same sounds and sequence of tonal events more than once in a row and also capable of collaborating with others.
3. STAGING THE DRAMATIC WORKS OF OSCAR KOKOSCHOKA, i.e., MURDERER THE WOMAN'S HOPE and THE SPHINX AND THE STRAWMAN.
It's the hundredth anniversary of Oskar Kokoschoka's ground-breaking and hilarious Jungian melodramas and high time someone staged them again. They're stupid, and surreal, and total genius.
WE NEED: actors, actresses, set designers, sculptors and prop designers, costumers, stylists, and sound techs.
Please contact me if interested.
WHY DO THIS:
Many of my most powerful spiritual experiences have been on long-distance runs, and the music I wrote for Flaming Fire was largely inspired by this. I realized recently that if other people aren't running while they're listening, they're probably missing the intent behind a lot of the Biblical and metaphysical imagery we used. I don't think God wants you to be quiet in church all the time. Sometimes he wants you to be ecstatic and screaming, full of holy rage and delight. I think that's how King David experienced God, and it's a wonderful thing to do.
THE PAST, OR THREE REASONS I QUIT MY BAND AND STARTED OVER:
When I was a kid, my favorite show was G-Force, an anime about "Five secret agents trained to fly like birds." They traveled around in a huge space plane that could turn into a phoenix, and everyone on the show had a cool vehicle that detached from the phoenix. Mark, the leader, had a jet fighter; the robot sidekick had a subterranean drill; the girl had a scooter; the cool guy had a racecar. The only guy who didn't have a cool vehicle was Tiny. Tiny was the fat dork who drove the big plane, and waited for everyone to come back from their awesome solo missions. When you start a band, you think you're going to be Syd Barrett, and everyone else will let you get drunk, do lots of drugs and be fun while they pack drums and set up gigs and do all the boring stuff. But that's not going to happen. Because you're the band leader, the band is your thing, not theirs. Your drummer may be in eight bands, your bassist may be a painter, your lady vocalist may be a cartoonist, but you won't have time for those things yourself. You have to set up gigs, book tours, cart them around in a van you buy, smooth over arguments between members, try to save money from gigs for recording sessions, mail out promo CDs over your lunchbreak. You're not Syd Barrett; you're a secretary. You're Tiny.
And Tiny, basically, is Dad. Maybe you moved away from the suburbs to be an artist, maybe you left your hometown of boring complacent squares. But here you are in NYC, driving a minivan full of petulant spazzy people, energetic folks full of bickering, naive optimism (if you're lucky), and strange passions that are imaginative, unrealistic and enigmatic. Your band mates are your children, and if things are going great, you need to let them know that it's all because of them, to keep morale UP. Way to go, kids! But if they are hungry, have a bad time at a gig, are not in the publicity photo the newspaper used, or decide they hate one another, it is YOUR FAULT and they will be sure to let you know. You suck, Dad—now drive us somewhere. (By the way, about one in eight New York musicians have driver's licenses.) But if that's the cost to be the boss, then you might as well have as much fun being a manager as possible. So if you want to stage a German Expressionist play, or get your band to scream and run around in circles, do it.
The 1970s space-rock band Hawkwind used to have an official poet, Michael Moorcock, who would read his scifi fantasy rhymes and stories as an opening act. It's hard to believe that a bunch of proto-metal scuzz-hippies would sit around for an hour, listening to some beardo read poems about mechanical orcs and such, but they did.
Anyway, Moorcock's most famous story was about Elric of Melnibone, this satanic albino elf king from a dying, evil kingdom. It's a good story: Elric has this enchanted "chaos sword" that alone can save the universe, but every time he pulls it out he becomes a little bit more evil. And along the way, Elric accidently kills everyone he ever loved: his girlfriend, his family, Count Brass of Karmag, etc. This chaos sword is your band. (For a non-dork version of Elric, see Rip Torn's honky-tonky epic “Payday.”) If you're a nice person, you can build a band with friends, and let it break up the first time someone's girlfriend causes trouble, or you run out of cash in Boston, etc. That's probably the nice way to do things. But you can also consider your band a holy quest, and work to preserve it all costs. You can count on it slowly destroying every relationship you have. Because the band will become your life, and your band members will become the most important people in your life, the people you love. But as time goes on, sacrifices will have to be made—sacrifices of friendships and blood. If people get depressed and start to destroy morale, kick them while they’re down and fire them, because band morale is more important. If that great guitarist who practices all your songs three hours a day, hangs out with you every weekend, and plays great can’t master the weird new samba direction that the Lord has told you the band must move toward, then fire her. Now she hates you, for good reason.
And then there’s all the creepy Lord of the Flies stuff that goes on. Every once in a while the band will wait till someone has left the room, and tell you (the band leader, Dad) to exile someone from their midst. It’s not even quite human, it’s more of a biological animal rite, like when geese peck the bad goose to death. They’re not happy about it, they’re mad you haven’t exiled this close friend of yours months before—like you insisted on keeping an insane dog in the house. Way to go, Dad. It’s Dad’s job to shoot the dog before he gives the baby rabies, and once you do, they’ll all make friends with that band member again—he’s gone, so what do they care—and talk about how mean you are for shooting the dog in the first place.
The truth is, every band member is going to die in your band, and you’re going to kill them. I have fired every best friend I’ve had in NYC over the last eight years. Some still like me, but most hate me, and who can blame them? Some escaped, and I’m glad—it saved me the eventual guilt, and I know they’re out there somewhere, hopefully not hating me. Who knows? I miss them all, and sometimes I feel very lonely. And still the quest goes on. Now how would you like to join a band?
3. Strikeforce Morituri
I’m hoping that things change with this new band, Flaming Fire 2, or whatever I call it. Not that everyone in the new band won’t eventually be expelled or implode suddenly, but that this destructive process can be expected, and enjoyed.
There was an unpopular but awesome 1980s comic called Strikeforce Morituri about these people to whom the government gave super-crack and then drafted into an army of junkies. This crack gave you special powers so that you could fight this horrible alien invasion, but within a year your head would explode. So everything they did was touched with sadness, but also fearlessness, because they were going to die anyway. It would be nice if Flaming Fire could be like that, understanding that someday your time will come, and this will all end for you and me both in a very painful way. But that awfulness makes the opposite of this relationship now, while we don’t hate each other, so nice. Just like life.
I think most of the big decisions in my life have been made with a Strikeforce Moritori mindset. Should I move to NYC and hang out with a bunch of alcoholic cartoonists who throw pretzels down their pants? Should I marry my first girlfriend right out of college? Should I eschew professional employment in the prime of my life, and get a bunch of dumb part-time jobs, so that I can dedicate my life to a Greco-Roman chant band and go on tour? Well, fuck it. I’m going to die anyway, so I might as well write an interesting epitaph in reverse.
God kills us all, he makes us soldiers and gladiators, and strikes us down when we’re doing the things we love, if we’re lucky. Maybe he loves retirees in Florida who die with dullness, but I think he loves goth girls who OD, loony preachers, weird artists, and Marines at least as much, if not more. Wouldn’t you? Please contact me if you'd like to join Flaming Fire.
(Photo way up above by Tom Gilbert)