Bloodhag: Librarians at the Gate By Todd Taylor

Bloodhag are real. It makes me overwhelmingly happy that they’re not just some really lucid dream I’ve been having for a couple of years. It’s a bitchin’ idea. Dress up in ties and nice shirts, attach paperbacks to chains, play some powerviolence/death metal songs that don’t clock in too long, and have every song be a mini-biography about a science fiction author. Not only does it sound great to me on paper, they deliver both live and on record. Hyperfast and hyper-literate, they play libraries and dive bars alike. Although heavier than big-panted, ball-scrunching, mosh pit-pathetic, Korny clones, they’re as nice as a grandma that makes huggies for your tea pot. They’re the progenitors of Northwest EduCore, and in Bloodhag’s hands, literacy becomes a paper cut. Be prepared to be destroyed – by songs inspired by books.

Interview and pictures by Todd Taylor
Parentheticals provided by the band.

Todd: What’s your name and break it down into the Latin root.
Zach: Zachary Orgel and I’m Logos the Rhythmatist. Logos is actually Greek. It’s “the word made flesh.” The living knowledge, or “gnosis,” as they say.
Todd: Could it also be construed as “The word of God”?
Zach: In a way. Some people thought it actually resided in the library at Alexandria and that’s why it got sacked – they were trying to destroy the logos. That was Philip K. Dick’s take on it. [See especially the Valis trilogy. Dick viewed the “logos” as perhaps a symbiote virus (perhaps extra-terrestrial) that when contacted/contracted produced gnosis.]
Jeff: A lot of that could deal with the actual, written word of God. You know how that gets freaked out and twisted around.
Zach: Rhythmatist is a gross derivation of rhythm. [e.g. One who is rhythmic in nature. One who produces rhythm.]
Jake: I am professor J.B. Stratton and I’m also known as Grimoire the Expectorator. Grimoire meaning the huge volume of complete works, some giant tome, perhaps…
Zach: It’s Germanic, grimoire.
Jake: …And expectorator is because of the… spitting.
Todd: In German, expectorate is “ausspucken.”
Jake: I could use a good ausspucken.
Jeff: And I’m Deux Ex Libris, the Plagiarazor, Dr. J.M. McNulty. My name is the grossest bastardization of any root words of all of the band names. It’s a stupid pun on “Deus Ex Libris” and “Deus Ex Machina.”
Jake: “Ex Libris,” which would be on book plates, which would mean “from the library of…”, so it would be “from the library of God.”
Jeff: And then the Plagiarazor is because I steal riffs from everyone? {instantly throaty} and I tear through your skull with brutal dispensation.
Jake: {in falsetto whisper} Sharp as a knife, yow!
Todd: So, why metal?
Jake: Pretty straightforward one. The fact that we all love heavy metal. I was quite the metal head coming up and it’s the most fun thing to play. The band originally was conceived as a recording project by Jeff and myself while we actually doing something else entirely.
Todd: Were bong hits involved? [Possible reference to “reefer cigarettes”? Interview might be “stoned” coll.]
Jeff: It was one of things; “Wouldn’t it be funny if we…” We wrote a song, “Edgar Rice Burghs,” when me and him were doing some other indie rock duo thing. And then we were like, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we had a whole band that played heavy metal songs about science fiction writers?”
Todd: So, is it funny?
Jeff: The first demo [“Swords Against Deviltry,” copyright, Bloodhag, 1996] is hilarious funny, in my opinion.
Todd: Who was Robert A. Heinlein’s roommate in college?
Zach: I knew that one at one point.
Jeff: That’s a rough one.
Jake: Let me think about it.
Todd: Which science fiction writer of the past had the most exacting vision of their future, our present?
Zach: I say John Brunner.
Jeff: I say Brunner and William Gibson but Gibson didn’t have to look ahead that far. And if you discount Philip K. Dick’s goofiness of the future, I think he was really damn close. Because if you look in all of his books, he talks about people wearing goofy clothes and weird, retro things that would happen and that’s exactly what’s going on. It’s just not the way that he said it.
Jake: He would have in Ubik [Dick, Philip K., 1969] , where the main character has to pay for everything in his apartment. From the toaster to his shower, he has to constantly put in dimes, which isn’t actually, currently going on, but the underlying thing was he was projecting that you would have to pay to do everything, which, more or less, you do now.
Jeff: But John Brunner, he was absolutely correct. He does a thing were he leaves out some of those details that other Sci-Fi writers might put in, like exactly what the people are wearing – that sort of thing – to the point where it’s very easy just to picture it going on right now. If you read Shockwave Rider right now, you could easily re-write that book with the right references and make it today. It could have happened two years ago.
Zach: And he wrote it in ’73 or ’74.
Todd: Is science fiction dead now?
Everyone: No.
Jeff: Absolutely not. In fact, I thought that it was and there’s this William Browning Spencer who writes for Aborealis Books, which is a total indie book publisher. He is great.
Zach: And then there’s Michael Swanwyck, Neil Stephenson. Octavia Butler is still going strong.
Jeff: In fact, she’s reached her Renaissance point right now.
Zach: Jack Womack.
Jeff: He wrote kind of a geeky story that was sort of cyber punk, right, and then it turned into this amazing series that was just so right on. It just got better.
Zach: It’s changed a bit. Since Gibson, especially, people are really dealing with computers as where computers before hadn’t invaded our lives so much. Authors always had computers in their books, but I don’t think back then they were thinking personal computer, they were still thinking institutional computer.
Todd: Mainframes in faraway buildings.
Zach: Yeah. So that’s really changed.
Jeff: And there’s Stanley Robinson [aka “Spider” Robinson], who writes those hard Sci-Fi novels about the colonization of Mars and stuff, takes our actual technology that we have right now, that we could very well make – although it would cost way too much money – and terraforms Mars in a book. The hard Sci-Fi factor, you know, it’s getting hard for me to write that sort of thing because I practically have to update my Ph.D. [Biochemistry – Harvard, Applied Physics – MIT]
Todd: All you guys are all published writers, right?
Everyone: Of course. Absolutely.
Zach: ?Who was Heinlein’s college roommate?
Jake: No, no, let me come up with it. I should have brought my book.
Zach: They have cheat sheets.
Jake: The thing I wish would die off right now is the current media Sci-Fi – TV and movies – all the new, original programs, the Sci-Fi Channel and shit, I just wish that would just drop off. The more product there is, the more crap there’s going to be and so I wish that it would go down and get back to where it was.
Jeff: It’s just because “Star Trek: The Next Generation” was cool and they might have had another hit with “Red Dwarf,” so the next thing you’ve got crap…
Jake: Like water down the flood line.
Jeff: Which is what the media does to everything, but it sickens me.
Jake: And then good stuff that comes through, you don’t want to see it because you’re afraid it’s going to suck.
Jeff: It’s like you’re lucky if there’s a half-way decent Sci-Fi movie. Usually, you’d have to put up with some crap in the movie, and say “I like Sci-Fi movies,” just to say that you liked it.
Todd: So, how can someone (Harlan Ellison) win eight and a half Hugo Awards?
Zach: Well, it was a technicality, really.
Jake: It was like Milli Vanilli.
Zach: It was given. It was taken away. There were some questions of who wrote what first. That’s all I really want to say. {sounding a little pissed at the mention of Ellison, due to his smear campaign against Bloodhag’s chum Forrest J. Ackerman.}
Todd: I know this is a really obscure question, but in the 1959 Hugo Awards, where the “Best New Writer” category wasn’t won, but Brian W. Aldiss got a plaque for second place. How’s that happen?
Zach: That’s the fan-based one, right? That just must been fans getting huffy.
Todd: Does Bloodhag feel that way?
Zach: I’m all about science fiction appreciation in general, any form. Some fans get real ticklish.
Jake: I think science fiction fans are the most rabid, dedicated fans to any sort of general genre than any other fan.
Todd: More than sports and porno?
Zach: More than porn. Sports would be second. Sci-Fi fans are completely dedicated. We’ve caught flack for what we’ve done.
Jeff: Sometimes, we go for the humor in the song as opposed to maybe just getting the facts in. Sometimes we do some biographical stuff that’s actually a little bit editorial, so we’ve gotten called on that.
Todd: {roughly quoting a song} “Heinlein, misogynist, fascist”?
Jeff: Yeah.
Jake: There was a guy who did a Frank Herbert website. We told him about the song, gave him the lyrics, and everything like that and he just basically picked it apart.
Zach: On his bulletin board, he posted: “This is wrong.”
Jeff: “‘Wrote Destination Void too soon,’ I think not.” He didn’t explain it.
Jake: It was actually our drummer at the time, Rodd, that went ahead and did it so I didn’t have a chance to explain my lyrics to him get any sort of backup, but I thought I summed up Frank Herbert. It is one of our shorter songs, so I don’t say a lot of stuff I could have said.
Jeff: It’s an earlier song. If you go back to our earlier songs, Jake and I were writing more for the corn factor – not with a K, which is a couple of our new songs. Since we’ve actually started doing it professionally, instead of just as a recording project, we realized, well, people would start calling us on our bullshit, basically. We had to do some research, albeit a little bit of research, and you’re not going to see me at a convention unless I’m book signing.
Todd: So what happened to Philthy?
Jake: Philthy “Drum Machine” Taylor?
Todd: Is he playing Pong in the afterlife?
Jake: Well, see, what happened was…
Zach: He was a drunk.
Jake: Philthy left. For awhile, we were summoning the spirit of Frank Herbert to play the drums for us.
Jeff: Towards the end.
Jake: He wouldn’t show up. We’d have his equipment. We would just channel Frank.
Jeff: We had an autograph and a picture and a candle and it worked. And the problem with that was he would leave his cords laying out all over the place and Jake and I would trip and we wouldn’t be able to pull it back together.
Jake: That, and all the blown PAs.
Jeff: Lots of blown PA heads and PA speakers, that sort of thing.
Zach: He loved to blow PA systems.
Jeff: On our first show, he was not even nearly loud enough and we came out sounding like a Japanese noise band and people didn’t even know it was metal. They just thought it was three guys with some distorted drum machine playing – all we could hear were his start-up notes and after that, it was like, forget about it.
Zach: But he had that great pause in that one song that we did every time.
Jeff: We were so tight.
Jake: And then we had the chance to practice with Lieutenant Governor Rod Karp (TX), who recently retired and began writing his great stuff, I guess…
Zach: It just gelled.
Jake: It was fun.
Jeff: The first practice came together fairly well.
Jake: Rod was constantly off stumping for something if he wasn’t chaining himself to a tree. He was out, generally lobbying. Constantly late to practice. The entourage he brought with him on the road, his personal secretary, it was rough.
Zach: He was pretty hardcore.
Jake: So, we had to let him go.
Zach: Well, he’s running that book militia up in the woods now.
Jeff: Armed book militia.
Zach: Yeah, he’s pretty hardcore, so we got Master Carpenter [Master Carpenter, AKA Codex 23. First appeared in print with “P.T.O.L. – Tales of the Elder Gods” a manuscript unearthed with the Dead Sea Scrolls and subsequently suppressed by the Vatican. Alternately said to be a hoax perpetrated by the equally mysterious “Eternal 13,” winner of the Marduk Award for best misrepresentation of a false idol.] to take his place and it’s been even better.
Todd: What’s the Codex 23?
Zach: Well, codex is just a gathering of knowledge. 23 is Robert Anton Wilson’s synchronous number. Chronomaster is time. [from the Greek, “kronus.”]
Jeff: You realize that although you’re allowed to print pictures of him playing, I’d rather that you did not describe him as he is in the band because he likes to preserve his anonymity.
Todd: OK.
Zach: The man’s got enemies. [Specifically for his movement “Psionetics – The Psychology of Psionics,” opposed by several groups patently lacking in a sense of humor.]
Todd: Short quiz. What’s the short story title of “Total Recall”?
Jake: “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.”
Jeff: Are we allowed to consult our notes on these?
Todd: No. Did science fiction authors always have a predilection for girls with huge hooters or did that just come about since the first Heavy Metal movie?
Jake: That’s the artists.
Zach: Except for Samuel R. Delany.
Jeff: Yeah, he’s gay. Boris Vallejo and Frank Franzetta – the women they wrote about didn’t have that big of tits, but man, did they have nice asses and thighs.
Zach: Heinlein had very strong, very intelligent, and big breasted women.
Jeff: Redheads mostly.
Zach: And related. He’s got the whole incest thing going.
Jeff: Pierce Anthony, over the last ten years…
Zach: The Tarot Series, ever read that?
Jeff: Tarot’s nasty.
Zach: That’s porn.
Jeff: After that, he gets into this dirty old man thing, where are his characters are screwing these young, young girls. It’s like the older you get as a Sci-Fi geek, the less action you get, I guess.
Todd: The more “Lolita” you get.
Jeff: We were just in Forrest J. Ackerman’s [Ackerman, Forest J. Sci-Fi fan extraordinaire, coined the term “Sci-Fi.” Editor “Famous Monsters of Filmland.” Largest Sci-Fi collection in the world. All around groovy guy. Predilection for bad puns.] house and he asked us if we were all twenty-one and took us into his “bad room.”
Zach: It was a picture of him with these two people dressed up like Vampirela.
Jeff: Babes! And all these rad pictures of Marlene Dietrich, all these hot chicks, a big-assed picture of Madonna.
Zach: He said he spent New Years at the Playboy Mansion with Hef. That was great, going to meet the man himself.
Jeff: He’s a swinger. He’s hot stuff.
Todd: Who wrote “The Glass Teat?”
Jeff: Harlan Ellison.
Todd: This is sort of a throwaway question for other bands, but I know you guys spend a lot of time thinking about stuff like this. What superhero or character in a book do you want to be and why?
Jeff: My thing is, Fantastic Four, original Superheros, my two favorite superhero powers would be either to stretch, like Mr. Fantastic, ’cause you can imagine all the things you could do with that {snickering in the van} not only in the sack, but any other manner, I mean, you’re perfect after that. And to become invisible. That harkens back to my high school days when I wished I could be invisible and walk around in the girl’s locker room.
Zach: Did you want to be an invisible woman?
Jeff: No, and you know the thing in Dungeons and Dragons [copyright Cary Gygax], where if you’re invisible and you strike someone, you become visible, I didn’t want that to happen either.
Jake: I’ll go on The Fantastic Four. It would be the Human Torch, for me. Being able to catch on fire, or rather make random parts of my body burst into flame. And then, other than that, it would be The Incredible Hulk. That is basically me wanting to beat people up.
Zach: As far as comic books, I’m a big fan of Dr. Doom, but I wouldn’t want really want to be scalded and wear an iron mask. I was big into the Arthurian legends.
Todd: Lancelot?
Zach: Lancelot was a pip. Gallahad was worse. I always liked Perceval, and Arthur was pretty cool.
Todd: I’ve also heard that one of you has three nuts, that you guys just have a little bit more balls than your average geek heavy metal band. True?
Jake: We share the third nut. {laugher}
Jeff: We actually have to pass around between.
Zach: It’s like the witches that share the one eye. [possible reference to early Science Fiction pioneer Will M. Shockspore.]
Jake: If you notice one of us rocking a little harder than the other, that would be the one in possession of the nut.
Jeff: Last night, I think Master Carpenter had the third nut, because he was forcing me to channel Kerri King from the grave, and he’s not even dead yet. Like, I had to go into the future and channel him from the grave and come back with the power.
Todd: To Carpenter, I know you’re not here and all, but you’ve got a nice double kick… So, the answer to your question that Jake is struggling with. Which science fiction writer has the largest religion going right now?
Everyone: It’s got to be L. Ron Hubbard.
Todd: And that was Heinlein’s roommate in college.
Zach: I don’t think he was the one he made the bet with, though.
Todd: I thought it was.
Jake: I thought it was Campbell.
Zach: Campbell published it. First non-science fiction ever published in “Astounding,” John Campbell’s magazine, was a Dianetics article.
Jake: I actually have the second publishing. A month later, he published an updated version of it.
Jeff: I’ve got the hard bound version of Dianetics from 1954 or when ever it came out.
Jake: It’s pretty cool. The whole, big preface is John W. Campbell saying “This is going to change the world. This is the new, future thing.” He was completely sold on the whole deal.
Zach: Did you read the article, the whole thing?
Jake: Yeah, well, I’m trying to. It bugs me.
Zach: This is the closest I’ve ever gotten to Dianetics, except for filling out their survey because someone handed it to me on the street, was that, you read it along, and it would all be common sense, actually kinda modern for the time, like general self-help, new agey kind of stuff, and then there’d be one little paragraph at the end of a section, and you’d be, “What the hell are you talking about?” Right now, it seems really tame, but I suppose in 1950 it was pretty revolutionary. I don’t know. I just can’t deal with it.
Jake: John W. Campbell, who was such a great proponent of Dianetics at the time, had a big falling out with Alfred Bester, who’s Demolished Man book we gave you, because Bester was opposed to the whole thing because he saw how ridiculous it was. They were close pals for years.
Jeff: Interesting thing about that pal-dom is Heinlein – there was this bar where the geeky Sci-Fi writers would hook up, the ones who were the real deal, we’re talking about, Heinlein and such – and he actually liked Bester and brought him along and brought him into the thing, you know what I’m saying.
Zach: Their own version of The Round Table. [reference to the Algonquin Round Table, taken up as a literary tradition. Heinlein et. al. Second or third science fiction version. Originally a group initiated by H.P. Lovecraft.]
Jeff: Yeah, basically? I was wondering about Forrest J. Ackerman. I know he was friends with A.E. VanVogt; great writer, early seventies. We were trying to pull some stories out of him. He was like, “Hmm, mmm.” He knew but wouldn’t tell us.
Jake: He went back to the raygun era and talking about some really cool stuff. I am such a huge A.E. VanVogt fan.
Zach: With Ackerman, the same thing with Ray Bradbury. He was like, “Oh yeah, I’m going to go see Ray next week.” And we’re like, “Do tell.”
Todd: Have you hit up any science fiction authors to come and play at your shows or do a hootenanny?
Jake: No. My current plan is to get Ursula K. Le Guin to come to one of our shows in Portland, ’cause I love her.
Jeff: He’s got a thing for her.
Jake: I need to talk to her.
Zach: She won’t return any of his phone calls and he calls all the time.
Todd: Are there any science fiction authors you know who are in bands? They don’t have to be good bands.
Zach: Does Steven fucking King count?
Jeff: I guess he does.
Jake: Kurt Danielson, who was the guitar player for Tad, I talked to him one time and he said that he was – he was a big Philip K. Dick fan – he said that he was currently writing a SF book, so whether or not that’s ever going to see the light of day is another question.
Zach: So, it’s just us, really.
Jeff: And he’s actually in a band called Valis.
Jake: Which is another Philip K. Dick title.
Jeff: Valis and Ubik are part of the trilogy
Zach: Ubik’s not part of the trilogy.
Jeff: It’s not?
Zach: No, it’s by itself.
Jeff: Valis and Ubik are two books I think that should be taught in high school along with that Frank Zappa autobiography we’ve got floating around in the van.
Zach: It’s funny.
Jeff: It’s not just funny, it’s illuminating.
Todd: Take this as you will. Who’s the most “metal” science fiction author?
Jeff: Michael Moorcock.
Zach: As far as being just full-on metal, yeah.
Todd: Qualify that.
Jake: His direct relation to Hawkwind, Blue Oyster Cult.
Todd: Rolling Stones.
Jake: The Rolling Stones did a song called “2,000 Light-years from Home.”
Zach and Jeff: Which is James Tiptree Jr.’s song title.
Todd: With the Rolling Stones, I’m thinking of Harlan Ellison, who wrote “Spider Kiss.”
Zach: Just the guys with the big swords and a lot of killing.
Jeff: Elric is the possibly the most metal Sci-Fi, and Corum, plus there’s Jerry Cornelius. [All references to Moorcock’s multi-dimensional uber-epic of the “eternal champion.” In moments of wry humor, Bloodhag like to refer to themselves as “eternal librarians.”]
Zach: He was a hippie.
Jeff: Yeah, but he played guitar.
Zach: That’s true.
Jeff: He was a guitar player in every book of the Jerry Cornelius series. At least once or twice, he ended up jamming with this psychedelic blues band. He’d just sit in with them.
Jake: Michael Moorcock did write lyrics for Blue Oyster Cult, and especially Hawkwind.
Jeff: I have a Nik Turner album on Cleopatra that has Michael Moorcock on it reading a poem. He flew to Texas and read the poem live at a Hawkwind show.
Zach: “Veteran of a Thousand Psychic Wars,” that one in “Heavy Metal,” he wrote that.
Jake: Moorcock wins “most metal,” hands down.
Jeff: What about Philip K. Dick and Frank Herbert?
Zach: For influence on metal, Tolkein.
Todd: No shit. Burzum, the Nordic death metal band, the name’s from Hobbit-speak meaning “complete darkness.”
Jeff: He’s almost tied.
Zach: For influence, Tolkein. Obviously from Zeppelin, on – the elves.
Jeff: Everyone says Zeppelin started heavy metal.
Zach: I don’t, but they’re part of the whole thing.
Jake: There’s a great website called The Tolkein Music List, but this guy had researched everything that even mentioned Tolkein – song title, content, live music. We’re listed on there.
Todd: How in the hell did you guys score an actual library tour?
Zach: Well, we played the Seattle library and the guy who set it up really liked it, and I schmoozed, because he loved it. Told him to talk us up and he went to a library conference, and that’s exactly what he did. He started emailing these people back and forth and sent them a tape so they’re quite aware; they have fair warning.
Jeff: He warned them that we were brutal.
Zach: My big goal is to do the National Teen Read Week.
Jake: Which is another tour which has been possibly sort of dangled out there.
Zach: I think we need to do this tour, and if it works out, maybe word will get around.
Todd: Are you going to get government funding?
Zach: That would be government funded.
Jeff: Our next record will be sponsored in part, if not largely, by the Timberland Regional Library District.
Zach: Yeah, because they’re paying us and that’s going to put out our next record.
Jake: We’re going to contact the National Literacy Council at some point. I’d like to talk to them but I don’t think, necessarily, they’re going to be too keen on it.
Jeff: I think our choice of musical genres, at times, alienates us. we also end up on shows – if we play a brutal metal show, they’re grim and they don’t understand. And if we play a punk show, we’re metal.
Zach: I get in a book conversation every show, at least once.
Jeff: I’ve had nothing but positive feedback, except from the drunken asshole. I’ve never had anybody come up and have someone say, “You know what? You guys suck.”
Jake: We kind of make the cream rise to the top, because I guarantee you, whoever out there that reads books is going to come up and talk to us at the end of the show, which is gratifying.
Jeff: At least the people who book the shows know we’re going to throw books and yet it comes as a large surprise to a lot of people, except in Seattle, where they know and it’s greeted with open arms.
Todd: What makes what you do above and beyond being just a schtick? Because I think it’s actually really good music, insightful lyrics, and a great time. Isn’t that the point?
Jake: I think that’s what it is. At one point, we became serious about the metal and crossed over from being a joke band into being, “OK, we’re the real deal.” And then also our lyrics, although some of them are funny, and Jake’s always clever with the lyrics.
Jake: I really do try to get some information in there. Beyond that, it was conceived in humor, but the deal with promoting literacy is legitimate.
Todd: Do all you guys read vigorously?
Zach: Copiously.
Jeff: This is probably one of the quietest tour vans you’re ever going to be in because at least three of the people – nose in a book.
Zach: The other thing about schtick – from the Yiddish – all schtick means is that we have an angle. And it actually helps us keep really focused. We’ve tapped a rich enough vein so we’ll be able to do this forever. I’ve sat down and wrote down all the science fiction authors I could think of off the top of my head one day and I got a hundred and then I went and cross referenced through all my – I have a big collection of short stories – I got a list of a hundred and fifty and I know I missed people.
Jeff: And that’s, like, two CDs worth of songs? {laughter}
Zach: And the metal is just ’cause of the resonant themes.
Jake: Heavy metal owes a debt to science fiction thematically. Titles, everything like that. Black Sabbath.
Zach: That Queen cover that uses The Astounding Robot. [Astounding Science Fiction, ed. John Campbell.]
Jeff: I would seriously like to go on record as saying that I believe that reading is truly punk rock and I believe that it’s truly punk rock to teach yourself through reading, and I’m totally into that and I’ve gone off on tirades on stage, and if you think it’s punk to be ignorant, you’re wrong. Because it’s punk to teach yourself. It’s not punk to go to school. Go to school, have fun. I’m just saying it’s punk to learn and it’s punk to know and be wiser than those who are supposedly in control.
Jake: If you’re a punk surrounded by jocks, every day in your school, I know that you think you’re smarter than the jocks, so you better read.
Jeff: You’ve gotta be smarter than them, and to a large degree – half the dudes I knew in high school were metal dudes with their nose in a Tolkein book or any sort of fantasy book, and I’d be sitting there with Arthur C. Clarke, and we’d be sitting right next to each other. They’d be like, “You’re a freak,” and I’d be like, “You’re a dirtbag.” But, at the same time, we were both smarter than everyone else in the class.
Jake: That’s the real crossover. Literacy.
Todd: Are you guys going to open your lyrical aperture up a little bit to get people like Vonnegut and Orwell?
Jeff: Vonnegut is absolutely a Sci-Fi writer, as is J.G. Ballard.
Zach: Vonnegut, any statement he’s ever made about what type of writer he is – he’s a Sci-Fi writer. He just get stuck in literature.
Todd: There’s a lot of sociology, humanity, and politics to him.
Jake: That’s why I absolutely love Vonnegut, man. Not only does it make you think about things socially, his use of science fiction is a frame, and that explains everything else – just like every writer who’s written SF and is taken as serious literature. He also manages to evoke all sorts of emotional things out of you because you can really relate to a lot of his characters. I know I can.
Jeff: He tickles your funny bone, too.
Jake: Yeah, he makes you laugh. It’s got everything I want. He’s so straightforward.
Todd: He’s so insightful.
Jake: Absolutely. He can say more in just a little sentence than most people get tangled up in huge books.
Zach: We were going to do this project – Orwell is in literature – well, his essays aren’t Sci-Fi, but his main novel is. [1984, duh.]
Jeff: Aldous Huxley.
Zach: Aldous Huxley wrote a lot of Sci-Fi. Doris Lessing writes a lot. She got nominated for the Nobel Prize.
Jake: William S. Burroughs.
Jeff: And that will be on a forthcoming record. There will be an album called “Appetite for Deconstruction.” And if anyone wants to put that record out or call out for that single…
Jake: We’re currently writing songs for those authors. Vonnegut is almost done. Ballard has been done for awhile. And we’ve still got to do Orwell, Huxley, and Lessing.
Jake: We’ve conceived other – not concept albums in the classic term…
Jeff: Theme albums.
Jake: Grouping albums.
Jeff: Another single of child Sci-Fi writers. Madeline L’Engle.
Everyone: John Christopher, Lloyd Alexander, Daniel Mathis Pinkwater, Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum.
Jake: And that’s going to be called “Reading Rainbow Bridge.”
Jeff: A little Norse.
Jake: We’re going to try to get full, furry boot, Man-o-war outfits for that.
Todd: Who’s the most anarchic science fiction writer?
Jake: Ursula K. LeGuin. She did write The Dispossessed.
Zach: Doris Lessing was a hardcore Communist and then got disillusioned That’s not really anarchy.
Jeff: But George Orwell definitely teaches you some things that every anarchist should learn.
Zach: Burroughs.
Jeff: Burroughs has got to be it. And even J.G. Ballard to a certain degree.
Zach: The Dispossessed is a study of what happens when you have one planet that are anarchists and one planet that are capitalists.
Jeff: And the melding of the two and how they kind of end of being the same.
Zach: They meet each other, sort of.
Todd: Do you think that women science fiction writers have been marginalized?
Jeff: Throughout the ’60s and early ’70s they were, but not so much now. Absolutely not.
Zach: There’s a lot of female science fiction authors and a lot of credit is being given to the earlier ones.
Jake: There are a lot of women Sci-Fi writers that do a lot of the popular Sci-Fi, like “Dragonlance” and kind of stuff…
Todd: Like Anne McCaffery?
Jake: Yeah, and those great, big thick ones with princesses on the cover and books like that that are always in the store. They are selling huge amounts. It’s not like they’re bad. I don’t read them myself.
Jeff: Honestly, some of the best science fiction writers of the ’60s were Joanna Russ and Ursula K. LeGuin. Joanna Russ is a god. James Tiptree Jr. {a woman writing as a man} is amazing.
Zach: Some of the first Sci-Fi I ever read was Ursula K. LeGuin, Anne McCaffery, and Madeline L’Engle.
Jeff: A Wrinkle in Time blew my little mind away. I read that in second grade.
Zach: I was like, “Oh my god, a big, pulsing brain.”
Jake: Currently, the field is wide open. I think at one point, especially Heinlein and those guys, it was all boys and when the women came in, they were like, “Get out of our club.”
Zach: I think it’s Theodore Surgeon. There was a big thing with James Tiptree Jr. He wrote this huge essay about he was sure that James Tiptree Jr. was a man, for sure, there’s no way James Tiptree Jr. was a woman.
Jeff: And Ursula Le Guin the whole time was like, “Nuh uh.”
Zach: I actually have a series of Tiptree stories where that’s the introduction and then in the postscript, he’s like, “I was wrong. Sorry.”
Todd: Who was Charles Manson’s favorite science fiction author?
Jake: Robert A. Heinlein.
Todd: Absolutely correct… have you ever stalked a Sci-Fi writer?
Jake: We stalked them in our store.
Zach: Well, Jake stalked Ursula.
Jake: Yeah.
Zach: He’s really harmless, Ursula.
Jake: My problem is when I sing her song, I get so choked up thinking about her, and my glasses fog up and I get all misty. I sorta lose track of what I’m doing.
Todd: Did any of you cry when they took out the card catalog at the library?
Jeff: I fucking hated card catalogs.
Jake: I like card catalogs. I just knew how to use one really well. I’m not a proponent of complete computer takeover. Although I don’t think that people should read them this way, I think that all books should be transferred to digital media for posterity’s sake.
Jeff: I think they should be sealed as books, in vaults, forever. ‘Cause you can read a book and translate cryptology of any language on earth. Someone with a brain could very easily do that. But there’s no fucking way that you’re going to find a book – microfiche, you can see it, it’s there – but when it’s in a computer, and I think you’re right. The whole Library of Congress should be digitized, I’m just saying that that’s not what’s going to last.
Todd: And you have to couple that with you can’t take a computer to a shitter and if you lose a book, you’re out some bucks, not hundreds or thousands.
Jeff: And if you do, you’re such a geek. Those are strong words coming from a guy like me.
Zach: Actually, I’m reading a book by this guy Stanislaw Lem which is all about way in the future they’re digging up the ruins of civilization – the full earth – which is supposed to be a little in the future from now. And in the destroyed civilization, there was a pathogen brought in from space from a shuttle or something that destroyed all of the paper in the world in the course of two weeks and it destroyed civilization.
Jeff: There goes my theory.
Zach: Money, books, everything was lost. In the book, there was this thing called The Third Pentagon, which was buried in The Rocky Mountains, and they found this sealed chamber that had this one guy’s memoirs. Aside from that, it’s like The Trial by Kafka.
Todd: Is there a line from a book you can quote that changed your way of thinking permanently? Mine is “The Dark Ages. They aren’t over yet.” Vonnegut.
Jeff: I’ve never had any one line, but I have to admit, the first time I read my first science fiction, when I read J.R.R. Tolkein and moved on from there, it just made me a different person from who I was before. When I was a little kid, when I went from dinosaurs to Sci-Fi and I read a lot of mysteries. I know this is stupid, but growing up in the ’80s when I read Stranger in a Strange Land, it actually made me think in a different fashion. Lathe of Heaven is another. There are Sci-Fi books. Cat’s Cradle. And also a lot of Philip K. Dick’s books – Ubik – and I read that when I was already fully grown – Ubik changed my mental attitude completely. It made me take stock of the world around me. It actually made me sit there for awhile and go, “Holy shit, my idea of the world is not true and possibly I might be all wrong.” And I don’t know of any other genre of popular literature that can do that to a person.
Zach: Speculative fiction is really where it’s at.
Jake: The one line I like in The Hobbit is “There are Moonletters here.” {laughter, lots of it. Todd doesn’t get the joke.}
Jeff: Only we would laugh at that joke.
Jake: That, and the little speech that the Lakeman makes, “Black arrow…”
Jeff: What about in Dune, “Even my name is a killing word.”
Jake: That’s not in the book.
Zach: He actually does say that. He’s in his spice trance.
Jeff: “Usul no longer needs the weirding module.”
Todd: Quick association. Canadian border patrol.
Jake: Abridged version.
Jeff: We’re run afoul of the Americans on the Canadian side.
Jake: Dirty Americans.
Jeff: Glock-wearing, swagging losers.
Jake: I must put something off. It just comes out of my skin, so we get pulled over every time.
Zach: We were all in shirts and ties. I was driving and they said, “What do you do?” And I said I owned my own pinball arcade and toy store [www.hiscorearcade.com]. And they’re like, “Pull over.” {laughter}
Jeff: They’re like, “What do you do?” “I’m an audio engineer.” “Pull over.”
Jake: The last time we went there, it was pretty funny. We had been given pot by the band we played with – called Drugstore – so we did our best to demolish all of it before we had to leave the next day. We even ate it to make sure there was nothing left as we drove across the border, right. They make us pull over, as usual. We get out. They search the van. They come out and go, “Well, we found a roach down in the driver’s seat cushion.
Zach: Jeff was, “I do not know what to say to that.”
Jeff: ‘Cause I didn’t. We’d already been searched and given the full-ball, up against the “uuugggg” – they didn’t break out the gloves.
Todd: That was going to be my next question, did you hear the unnerving snap of rubber?
Jeff: No, he didn’t. I was so sweaty and disgusting from playing the night before and I wouldn’t put my hands down there, to be honest, until I took a shower, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone else do it and he had to. And he was washing his hands and he hadn’t been wearing rubber gloves, and I saw the look on his face and I kind of smirked, and he’s was all like, “You think I like doing this?!” I just shrugged. That’s what you get motherfucker.
Jake: He grabbed mine and I was like, “It’s all real.” [laughter] The funny thing is that he wanted me to stick my leg out straight while I was sitting down and turn down the cuff of my pants. And I couldn’t do it. I’m like, “Dude, I’m fat.” The last time we went up there, they found a roach in the seat cushion – this wasn’t the ball touching time – they bust us on it and they go, “But we can tell it’s really old, so you guys get out of here.”
Jeff: He throws our I.D.s on the counter and says, “You boys get out of here.”
Jake: They let us go, right, and we go back out and the roach is sitting on the seat. He gave it back to us.
Jeff: It was so old and decrepit. There was no way you could do anything with it.
Jake: It was probably from the previous owner of the van.
Todd: How often do you rip your pants?
Jake: Lately, I’ve been trying to get pants that fit me a little bit better, but I would say – there’s no wood to knock on – every third show I rip out my pants.
Jeff: I’ve ripped out my pants on numerous occasions.
Zach: I’ve never ripped out my pants.
Todd: OK, final words – give me some inspiration for America’s youth.
Zach: Read to live. Live to read.
Jake and Jeff: And there’s R.I.F. Reading is… fuuuuck you.

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