Babies on Fire


From: Alex Wallace []

Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2003 2:05 p.m.

To: Tracey

Subject: Killing Joke Is MY NEW SHIT

Remember last week when my mom said “New York my ass! Killing Joke did this in 1980!”? She played us “Change,” that scratchy funk song? I found another Killing Joke song called “The Wait” and it sounds exactly like those nu-metal bands your brother likes. BUT IT’S 23 YEARS OLD. (Tell him Metallica covered “The Wait” in 1987—that’ll shut him up.) And remember after 9-11 when my mom kept looking out the window and playing that weird CD, Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions? It had lyrics like that book Empire you gave me—money is not our God, eating meat is bad, politicians are exploiting people. It was Killing Joke, too, but I could understand it. Their old songs were different, all symbolism about people watching videos. You know yr bro’s metal albums, where the words sound like they’re about something but really aren’t? That can work. “Reck-we-eh-heemmmm!” I love that song.

I thought they broke up but they have a new CD. Guess who the drummer is? The Grohlster. WTF? The first song is about their career and it’s called “The Death and Resurrection Show”: “Mark out the points, build the pyre, assemble different drummers, light up the fire, put on your masks and animal skins.” They’re making fun of themselves but then it kicks in and it’s NOT FUNNY. It’s produced by Andy Gill from the Gang of Four, who sound just like the Liars. The CD is big like a CORN SILO big, big like a CHURCH big. The guitar player, Geordie, still sounds like a bunch of bees. The singer, Jaz, does two things with his voice: a growling war cry and this long, pretty aaaah. The website says he lives on a Polynesian island and is a classical composer. (You can put anything on the Web, right? I mean, you’re a 45-YEAR-OLD MAN on the Web.) The band doesn’t sound Polynesian or classical—that would be that wack trance record you gave me last year. Ha ha.

The new one is like Extremities, hard political rock. I miss the songs like “Love Like Blood,” because it was cool when they were scary loud and dancey all at once. (Mom was right—their song “Eighties” came out BEFORE Nirvana’s “Come as You Are,” which is a BITE.) The new song “Total Invasion” is a Bush dis: “It’s a fucking crusade/a lesson in trade/so all you intellectuals/we’re gonna invade,” which is what I told my Dad about the “war” and he was all “Waah, waah, I read about this in college,” like he does anything except drop names. He says this record is “too metal,” like that’s bad. At least they’re MAD. I don’t like it when Jaz does the Monster voice or plays his wack synth, but he doesn’t do it much. They must be SICK live.

It’s like our Deftones argument. YES, the lyrics don’t make sense, but they make me feel ALIVE. I use their new record (also self-titled—weird?) for what you call my “man time,” when I listen on headphones. The guitarist, Stephen, sounds like Geordie with this oceanic flurg that makes me want to cry and float and get hurt. (I googled Kim Gordon, because you told me to, and she had some INSANE quote about wanting to be “whipped by Steve Albini’s guitar,” whoever that is. When I downloaded a Steve Albini song, it sounded EXACTLY like Killing Joke, but with a drum machine!) The new Deftones doesn’t have a song as good as “Street Carp” from White Pony, which is the best song ever about forgetting your address, but it sounds like an awesomely big load of hot sauce and shaving cream dropped on your house (except it only kills your dad, nobody else). The singer, Chino, has two voices, like Jaz: a scary scream like he’s being poked with a glass anus-killer, and the get-laid lullaby voice. I think he means them both. They’re not as cool as Killing Joke, but when I saw them at Summer Sanitarium with Metallica they were the only band that wasn’t rehearsed and phony. My dad just read over my shoulder and is giving me this speech about “the myth of authenticity” and I have to let him go on eBay now and look for funk records. What a wad. (He doesn’t have cable modem at his place in Brooklyn, ha ha.)

OK, yes, don’t ask, I’ll burn them for you. But then, I burn for you, Alexander