Track By Track Discussion With Terminal Mind’s Steve Marsh at TeamRock

Everything you need to know about the best punk album you’ve never heard

Long-lost Austin punks Terminal Mind talk us through their newly-released Recordings album, almost 40 years after it was recorded

While they might only have been a band for three short years, the career of first-wave Texas punks Terminal Mind was a storied one. Alongside being offered coveted support slots alongside Iggy Pop and The Big Boys, between 1978-81, their ability to spin the sounds of John Cale, Wire and The Clash into their own brazen racket allowed them to lay down a template for punk mimicked by generations of Austin punks who followed.

But for almost 40 years now, the band’s collected output has lain dormant. Until now. Cut to today, and Recordings, their first-ever official album release, collects the tracks from their original, out-of-print 7″ (which gathers a pretty penny over on Discogs, for those interested), their contributions to the Live At Raul’s compilation, along with a host of previously unheard tracks.

To celebrate the album’s release, frontman Steve Marsh talks us through the album, track by track.

I Want To Die Young

“This was the lead song on the four-song EP that we recorded in September 1979. When I wrote this song, I remember being bored silly by the conversation topics of my elder relatives at a family reunion and the lyrics just falling out of me.

One of my favourite LPs at the time was The Who Live At Leeds. I played that record to death; I loved that version of My Generation. I wasn’t even thinking about that song when I wrote this one, but it certainly gave me permission to put my angst into words. There was definitely an anti-old fart agenda going on [laughs]. Yet, the song is still relevant now I’m over 60: it’s about how you live your life, not how long it lasts.”


“The lyrics for this song were loosely based on the latter years of Arthur Rimbaud, long after he had given up poetry. He was a gun runner and coffee merchant in North Africa, and developed what turned out to be bone cancer in his leg. He was trying to get back home and died in Marseilles after an amputation. I was introduced to his writing by being a huge fan of Patti Smith. The subject of feeling like a refugee, of being lost between lines, is perennially relevant.

This was song number two on the EP, which came out in January of 1980. Right at the exact same moment as Tom Petty’s Refugee. Oh well.”

Sense Of Rhythm

“I made it a point to not write love songs, but occasionally I would write an anti-love song! This one was inspired by the desperation and total abandon that I observed on the dance floor at gigs. I say “observed” – I don’t dance. This was song number three from the EP.”


“The final song from the EP was always the set closer. I remember sitting on my porch one afternoon, and some frat in the neighbourhood was playing Jungleland by Bruce Springsteen so loud that you couldn’t escape it. That song just felt like the perfect summation of everything I hated: cute, nostalgic escapism. A perfect soundtrack if you were a moron in business school and wanted to feel a little ‘rock’n’roll’ without having to commit anything to it. Nothing like the world I was living in! I remember thinking ‘This music will rot your brain! Jungleland – more like Zombieland’.

The big rave-up section was another result of the influence of My Generation from Live At Leeds. Every time we performed this live, I would try to come up with something different to spout off about, either an anecdote or an observation, just to make it a unique event.

When we recorded the song, in order to simulate the bullhorn tone in the spoken section, I recorded myself into a portable cassette recorder in a closet, then played it back into a microphone during the vocal tracking. I also got our guitarist Doug to track a layer of anti-solo noise, but we only used the very tail end of it on the original EP, as the song comes out of that section into the last verse – I was talked out of using more. When we were dumping the tracks to digital to do the remix, on what was probably the very machine that we had recorded it on originally, I found out that we had recorded three extra noise tracks, so I was able to mix them in while still being true to the original recording.

We didn’t have a producer for the session, and the engineer was some guy who worked with country music so he didn’t get what we were doing at all. It was a case of ‘I can’t hear the drums’, ‘I can’t hear the guitar’, ‘I can’t hear the bass’… ‘now I can’t hear the drums again’. Also, the engineer was a big believer in mixing through tiny speakers (‘If it sounds good on these, it’ll sound good on anything’). I’m really glad that [producer] Louie Lino and I got to finally mix it right!”

Obsessed With Crime

“This was one of two songs that we recorded as demos with a friend of ours named Kerry Crafton, who was studying to be a recording engineer. It was done in the studios at the University of Texas’ radio, television and film building. Kerry went on to record Scratch Acid, Roky Erickson, Agony Column, and tons more, but we were his first guinea pigs, and he gave us our first taste of a recording studio. Being a college studio, it was a lot brighter and cleaner than any professional studios I’ve been in since!”

Fear In The Future

“This is the other demo. I can hear the influence of John Cale on these, from the Island Records era. I asked Doug to play a solo with as few actual ‘notes’ as possible, kind of an anti-solo, to set an ominous, lurking tone. The robot voice at the beginning was a bit much, but otherwise I think this holds up nicely.”


“Now we’re into the live tracks. This song and the next originally appeared on the Live At Raul’scompilation LP, along with The Next, The Skunks, Standing Waves, and The Explosives. Each band recorded a set to a mobile truck and then picked two songs to be included on the album. There was never any question that this would be one of our selections, although I can still see the look on Doug’s face glaring back at Greg on the drums as the song tempo just took off!

Back then, I was working at a sandwich shop called Thundercloud Subs that used to play the local rock station on the radio. I was working a lunch rush around the time that the record came out, and I was hearing something that sounded a lot like this song playing on the radio, and I was thinking ‘damn, somebody else beat me to it!’ Turned out it was actually my song – I just never expected to hear it on the radio.”

Bridges Are For Burning

“Another anti-love song; I can hear an influence from the early era of Ultravox. I loved their record Ha! Ha! Ha! This one made the cut onto Live At Raul’s because I kept forgetting the lyrics to the one I wanted to include!”

(I Give Up On) Human Rights

“This would have been my pick to go on Live At Raul’s, but it was a new song and I didn’t have the words down yet.

The theme I was dealing with was an exhaustion with people expecting the world to be fair. It just seemed like protesting the evil things that were happening in the world, or even expecting a sane approach in America to the issues of the day, was just hopeless and ultimately getting nowhere. The song turned out to be a kind of revenge fantasy of the oppressed; an identification with radical action as opposed to peaceful demonstration. If the world didn’t care, then you’d have to make ’em care. Like I said: fantasy.

I have a friend who has an archive of recordings from that period of the scene, and this came from a rough board mix of the set for Live At Raul’s. Fortunately, it was the only tune from that mix that sounded like it was mixed right. It’s got a Clash/Wire vibe to it that I like a lot.”


“This song was inspired by a girl named Melissa who was our super-fan. She used to wear all black to every show, and she even had a little “no symbol” tattoo. In keeping with my thoughts about love songs, I figured that it was okay to almost write a love song if the title was Black.

Missing Pieces

Both this song and Black were from a tape that somebody recorded with a portable cassette recorder one night at Raul’s. We were able to clean it up and make it sound a lot better than the original, which was totally muffled sounding. We even had to simulate stereo at one point because the cassette player apparently malfunctioned briefly; maybe the person holding it didn’t realise they were pressing on something that caused it to track mono!

Again, you can hear the John Cale influence, and maybe a little Stooges. This song is probably the earliest piece written that is on the album. Every set needed one song about mental instability that fell apart at the end.”


“This is the only recording I could find of the band once my pal Jack Crow (R.I.P.) had joined on synth. It comes from a live video shoot at a street party near the UT campus. You can hear the sound change as the camera moves around and the mic changes direction. Those street parties were a blast! There was a church with a large outdoor patio facing the side street that served perfectly as a stage. We played with The Big Boys, Standing Waves, The Next.

The topic of ‘bureaucracy’ as a metaphor for detachment (and psychosis) seemed pretty obvious at the time, though I would probably substitute ‘corporate control’ if I was writing it today, since that seems the bigger threat now.”

Terminal Mind’s album Recordings is available now via Sonic Surgery Records.

RMX Radio Interview with Richard and Alex

‘Super Secret Records’, la nueva plataforma ‘cazatalentos’


'Super Secret Records', la nueva plataforma 'cazatalentos'‘Super Secret Records’, la nueva plataforma ‘cazatalentos’

TRANSMISIÓN   28/11/2017


Gonzalo Oliveros lleva más de tres lustros en la creación y producción radiofónica. Comenzó como parte del equipo creativo de NRM, de donde saltó…

En conversaciones para Coup D’ Etat, Clemente Castillo y Richard Lynn, fundador de ‘Super Secret Records’, presentan el proyecto.

Clemente detalló cómo conoció a Lynn y contó cómo fue que nació esta plataforma que se centra en el punk local y la escena de la música underground.

Añadieron que, se encuentran trabajando en la búsqueda de nuevo talento latinoamericano.

“La idea es empezar a filmar algunos proyectos, y parte de la escencia que se busca es que tenga raíz, buscamos que tenga ‘el sabor de su país’, no buscamos perfiles tradicionales, sino una banda que pueda proponer a nivel mundial”. 

Te invitamos a escuchar la entrevista completa aquí.

Crack Pipes Interviewed in Glide Magazine


In 2005 Austin, Texas was a vastly different place than it is today. Though the hipster thing was in full swing, the city was still mostly a college town whose coolness wasn’t widely known. You could still find slackers and hippies hanging out in laid back dive bars, and cheap rent still existed, meaning musicians could get by without a day job. Out of this environment came The Crack Pipes.

With their volatile mix of blues, soul, garage rock, psych and punk, The Crack Pipes were a quintessentially Austin band – the kind best enjoyed in a sweaty bar after one too many Lone Star beers. They were also the kind of band that didn’t nurse lofty ambitions to become a huge national act, content to get local gigs and enjoy the good times that came from playing rock and roll. To my knowledge, the band never actually broke up but eventually played fewer gigs and stopped making albums as the band members moved on to other projects or got day jobs.

The crowning achievement of The Crack Pipes was their 2005 album Beauty School, which finds the band in peak form as they unleash a collection of 13 raucous tracks brimming with funk, soul, and bluesy punk. Compared to the band’s previous album, Beauty School was perhaps their most fully realized and polished, no small feat for a band that had always flown fast and loose. At times the album is heavy, fast, and beautifully unhinged as vocalist Ray Colgan howls his ass off over snappy brass tracks and wild guitar. The songs feature themes of hardship, injustice, beauty, love and optimism, all of which feel just as relevant – for better or worse – today.

Now, twelve years later, Beauty School is being reissued on vinyl through Austin label Super Secret Records, and we’re excited to offer up an exclusive early listen ahead of the September 29th release date. Though Austin is a far cry today from 2005 with its homogenous glass condos and tech bros, Beauty School sounds stronger than ever and captures a moment in time that was truly special.

Listen to the album and read our chat with Ray Colgan of The Crack Pipes…

What made you feel like it was time to reissue this album and that the album was worthy?

We had always wanted our records to be on vinyl, but when we were originally releasing them CD’s were king. A few years back I had looked into releasing them ourselves, but it was just beyond our budget. So, this came about when John Wesley Coleman was putting out records on Super Secret Records and Richard had mentioned he was starting a sister-label called Sonic Surgery Records that was going to do reissues of albums that had only been on CD and put them out on vinyl, and Wes said, “Man, you got to put out The Crack Pipes”. And Richard brought it up to me one night and I said that sounds great, and then when I had to choose which one of our three full length albums, it seemed it should be Beauty School for two reasons. One was that I thought it was our best album, and two, it was the one that years after it came out people would say to me that they had just been listening to it. That happened a lot, so I felt that there would be some people out there looking to hear it as a real vinyl record.

Do you remember what the inspiration for the title was. Is there a story behind it?

When we started writing songs for this record, we didn’t have a lot of material that had already been worked out and played live, almost every song was written right before we went into the studio, and it got pretty frantic in the weeks leading up to our booked studio time. I had been keeping a list of song titles, often I would start with just a title and fill it out later. Beauty School was on that list, because I had a hat that said beauty school on it, and when it came time to write some words for it I thought I don’t actually want to write about real beauty schools. This was in 2004 and we were in two wars and still recovering from 9/11 and the economy was in bad shape and the news was just really bumming me out. I found myself wanting to write something hopeful instead of just pointing out all the horror and death and destruction, because that stuff is always going on and you can drown in despair if you’re not careful. So, the idea came to me, that while you don’t want to turn a blind eye to that stuff, maybe it would be positive thing if one could teach themselves or be taught to look for the beauty in the world so they can find a reason to get out of bed. And that sounded to me like a gospel song, so we kind of tried our hand at that with [the title track]..

It’s been said that the title track is based on a concept of teaching yourself beauty in a world filled with ugliness. Do you think that concept is even more important given our current social climate?

Like I said earlier, at any given time on the planet and back through the history of mankind, something horrible is happening to someone, somewhere…conversely, there are also always beautiful things happening; love, romance, children being born, kids laughing, good music, good books, films, art, people helping other people, good conversations…so much good going on. There are people who live lives never touched by tragedy or heartache (not me), but sometimes these things aren’t in balance, or a certain greater chaos erupts. Those are the times I believe you need to know how to keep your hopes up, keep moving towards a better world, you need the light the most in the dark. So, I don’t think it’s more important now, but after this last election I think there are many, many people that need some optimism, need some hope, need to know that there’s a chance that things can get better, so don’t give up and don’t forget the good times.

Given how much time has passed, do you still have the same reaction listening to this album now as you did when you made it?

It’s different, kind of, from song to song. Some of them have a real personal meaning to me (and they mean something else for each other member in the band, I’m sure), but others I might have forgotten exactly what i was thinking when we first wrote it. So, now instead of going oh, this is the song about that one thing, I might now just appreciate a cool part one of the guys is playing. One thing that hasn’t changed was that when we set out to make Beauty School I wanted it to be an album I could listen from beginning to end and not regret a single thing on it, and that hasn’t changed, for me it’s our most fully realized record.

Who were some of the acts that were inspiring you at the time when you made this album?

I can only speak for myself (Ray Colgan), but here’s a quick list of ones i can remember: Taj Mahal, The Animals, James Brown, John Lee Hooker, Oblivians, Freddy Fender, Roky Erikson, Joe Cocker, Johnnie Taylor, Biz Markie, Les McCann, Bill Withers, Jimi Hendrix, Ike & Tina Turner, The Make Up, Small Faces, The Who, Spaceman 3, The Stanley Brothers, The Golden Boys, and many more I’m sure.

Do you recall who did the bulk of the writing for this album?

We have a kind of weird way of writing, I usually come with the words and a basic structure and then get with one of the real musicians in the band. For a long time it had started to become mainly me and Billy Steve, the guitarist, and then we’d make a rough demo to take that to the whole band and then fill out the song until we thought, that’s pretty good, let’s play it live. But, for Beauty School I know we wanted to do something grander than our last two records, something more evolved, and I felt that one of the best ways to do that was to mix up the song writing process, so more of these songs were written with different members of the band…which also led us to racing against the clock to get these things done before we went into the studio, and some were still pretty raw when we laid down the basic tracks, like maybe we only practiced that version once before recording it.

Were the songs inspired by your experiences in Austin?

Yeah, the love and broken heart songs came from love and broken hearts in Austin, but some songs do maybe have more to do with the time I spent on Red River and other Slacker elements of the city. “Reflections In A Bad Light” is about someone who has partied a little too hard and is confronted in different mirrors by a reflection he doesn’t want to see. On a lighter note, “Guerrilla Haircuts” was inspired by a stylist friend of mine that gave haircuts to people at parties or at bars or all kinds of weird places, and she called those guerrilla haircuts, and I was like, that’s a term that has to get out into the lexicon!

I purchased this album at Waterloo Records when it came out and still have the CD today. I distinctly remember feeling like it was a true embodiment of the Austin music scene and lifestyle. A lot has changed since then in Austin. Do you think a band like The Crack Pipes could come around now in Austin and still resonate with the same audiences?

I’m going to say yes, because even though this city has changed so much, and our scene has changed so much, I know there are still bands out there that are up and coming out of little slacker scenes that love to rock the house party and there’s beer whipping around and people are dancing and laughing and somebody is going to break a window or the cops are going to come and shut it down. These bands love sweaty, high energy rock and roll, and then one day they’re going to write a pretty love song and stick that into their set and then they’re going to keep doing weird things and never make any money, but they’ll have done it for as long as they can and they’ll be the next link in the chain of underground, freaknik garage noise that never goes away.

Going off of the last question. Do you feel the same way about Austin as you did when this album came out considering all of the changes that have happened since then?

Again I’m going to say yes, because at the time I thought Austin had got too big too fast and it was too expensive and it was getting Dallas-fied, and now I know it’s too big and too expensive and it looks a lot more like Dallas, but I loved the city then and I still love the city now and I especially love the weirdos and lifers that populate my side of town.

Are the members of the band currently working on any projects? I read that you are working on a new Crack Pipes album. Will it be in a similar vein to Beauty School?

Me and Mike Corwin aren’t doing anything else musically, but Billy Steve is in Churchwood and around Christmas he plays in The Blitzens, keyboard player Coby Cardosa is actually one of the best drummers in town and he plays drums with The Damn Times and Attic Ted. Nick Moulos has been in a lot of different acts like Attack Formation and Total Sound Group Direct Action Committee, but currently his other band is mainly BossEye who are great – go get their debut album and treat yourself.

We are working on a new album, almost all of the songs have been written and some even played live for years now, we’re going into the studio with Chico Jones in December for a projected release in the fall of 2018. It’s going to be shorter than Beauty School and it’ll be its own thing, I can tell you there’s a lot more references to wild animals, Greek mythology, and the moon on the new one…

You can score The Crack Pipes’ Beauty School on vinyl HERE

Austin Chronicle Interviews Super Secret Records Founder Richard Lynn

Punk Rock Patron of Austin Music Richard Lynn

Super Secret founder and Sonic Transmissions Festival underwriter expands operations

Photo by John Anderson

Larry Lynn grew up so poor he had to mix hot water and ketchup together to make tomato soup when he went out with friends. By marrying Ann Blevins, he joined a wildcatter family with oil fields in Midland prosperous enough to establish a base wealth for future generations. Founding Lynn Drilling, Larry staked his own claims an hour east of Austin in Giddings during the Seventies, making significant contributions to the family through both oil money and two sons, one of them noted NYC DJ Will Automagic.

The elder sibling, Richard Lynn, sits in his East Austin home listening to a vinyl box set of Kinks albums from the Sixties. He’s dressed in his customarily nondescript T-shirt and shorts, an outfit conducive to spending four or five nights a week chasing live music locally as he has for nearly two decades. His modestly furnished two-story house includes a Mercedes-Benz SUV, but otherwise betrays no signs either way of resources.

More telling of his passion are the dozens of framed photos of rock icons on the walls, mostly of the Who and his hero, AC/DC’s Angus Young, as well as a Daniel Johnston piece of which he’s particularly proud. Lynn runs three homegrown record labels, a nascent book/film company, concert series Austin Jukebox and performance art program Austin Cultural Exchange, and now funds this week’s Sonic Transmissions Festival (see sidebar, at right). Music distribution and publishing companies may soon join the roster.

By the time you read this, Lynn might well have added a radio station or concert promotions business.

“That’s what happens in my life,” he says emphatically. “I’ll think I know the path I’m going down, but for one reason or another I’ll take a sharp turn, on a moment’s notice. I guess I like the chaos and the thrill of it. Where you just go blind into something, full speed, as fast as you can go.”

Spontaneous Records

Super Secret Records began spontaneously in 2001.

“I just did it without thinking,” Lynn says. “My favorite local band at the time was Manikin. I was just a fanatic. They were playing at a warehouse in Houston one weekend and after their set, which was great as always, I was like, ‘When’s your record coming out? I can’t wait to buy it!’

“Alfie [Rabago, guitarist], in his typical manner, said, ‘Eh, it seems like too much trouble.’ They were just not into it. I said, ‘If I start a record label, will you let me put it out?’ I don’t think they believed me. So I was driving back home thinking, ‘I don’t know how to start a record label.'”

Manikin’s self-titled debut christened SSR in 2002.

“I put out three or four records [a year] for like 13 years,” he says. “Just in my spare time, one at a time.”

At first, Super Secret’s catalog documented Austin’s punk and indie underground, bands that commanded the tiny stages of Blue Flamingo and Bates Motel in the Nineties, and Beerland and Trailer Space in the Aughts. Street punks the Eastside Suicides, Slum City, and the Put-Downs all released albums or singles on Super Secret in its initial three years of existence. By the early portion of this decade, the label was putting out three or four albums and numerous 7-inches annually, including the debut 45 by garage rock heavyweights the OBN IIIs. Alongside 12XU and Western Vinyl, Super Secret became a key cog in the wheel of Austin punk and indie rock.

The rate of production changed after Lynn retired from his day job in 2014.

“I started traveling around the world until I got sick of that,” he admits. “I was gonna shut down the label – maybe move to Hawaii, because that’s always been something I planned to do eventually. I pictured myself laying on the perfect beach, perfect weather, perfect water, got my huge house behind me, got my dogs – everything’s great. But I know what I would say: ‘All right! Any bands playing tonight?’ I’d be bored.”

Super Secret has dramatically expanded operations, with more LPs coming out in the last two years than in the first 10.

Since then, Super Secret has dramatically expanded operations, with more LPs coming out in the last two years than in the first 10. Lynn broadened the imprint’s musical POV as well, bringing on Evil Triplet’s psychedelic maelstrom, the modern folk of Adam Ostrar, and post-punk songcraft of Quin Galavis. Moving beyond Texas borders, he also sponsored an album by jazz-informed No Wave legend James Chance & the Contortions.

If that release schedule wasn’t already wall-to-wall, a Trailer Space performance by improv trio Knest inspired Lynn to start Self Sabotage, a label dedicated to experimental music. Meanwhile, inability to find music by Nineties indie rock Texans Transona Five compelled him to start Sonic Surgery, a reissue imprint.

Lynn also runs Austin Jukebox, a quarterly concert convergence that recently flew in Cleveland art-punk pioneers Pere Ubu for the first time in 20 years, then followed it up with the local debut of beloved Australian psych-pop act the Moles. Monthly gathering Austin Cultural Exchange includes everything from music to poetry and painting, and burgeoning film division Sound & Sight Repository is headed by Goodnight Brooklyn director Matt Conboy.

No notion goes unconsidered and anything can be on the table, as in the case of Lynn underwriting the third annual Sonic Transmissions Festival – the locally based/internationally sourced jazz and experimental musical cluster curated by Norwegian-born bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten – after having his mind boggled by the 2016 edition. That tendency can vex his employees, who now number up to 14, including consultants.

“They start shaking their heads sometimes, like, ‘Why are we doing that?'” laughs Lynn. “My answer’s usually, ‘Because we’re not already.'”

We Can, So We Do

“Richard will sign acts he knows aren’t going to quote-unquote make it,” notes Ray Colgan.

Stationed at the Super Secret office in the Museum of Human Achievement, the veteran bandleader chuckles. Hired to troubleshoot, the Crack Pipes vocalist now handles Sonic Surgery.

“That’s one of the things I love about working here,” continues Colgan. “I don’t have to think constantly about money, commercial appeal, and the commodification of music. I can go back to ‘What can I do to make this a better experience for these people? What can I do to help them?'”

“In some ways, we’re interpreters of what Richard says,” explains Ismael Archbold, another longtime local musician who came aboard two years ago to assist Lynn and now shepherds Self Sabotage, Sound & Sight Repository, and Austin Cultural Exchange. “Sometimes he’ll say something, and it’ll be a collapsed version of a long conversation. That’s part of the job description – keeping up with the boss.”

“He’s a chaos communicator,” says Knife in the Water’s Aaron Blount, who Lynn credits as his adviser. “He throws so much stuff at you, but you can’t say, ‘That isn’t realistic,’ because that will drive him nuts and he won’t let it go. He wants unrealistic things to happen, and they do.”

“He does mull things over,” says Archbold about Lynn’s decision-making. “In fact, if people press him for an answer, especially if it’s a yes or no, he’ll just say no. ‘You want an answer now, so I have to say no, because you’re not giving me time to think about it. But if you really want me to think about it, let me think about it.’

“He also does things off the cuff. It’s part of the fun of all this: We can, so we do.”

“They tell me, ‘Please don’t start any more labels today,'” grins Lynn. “‘Please don’t sign any more bands right now. We’re very full.’ I mostly don’t, but I sometimes do, because the thrill of it for me really is that initial idea. When you have that idea it’s really exciting to talk about. Then I usually turn around and say, ‘Can y’all do that while I go and have more ideas?'”

Crawling From the Wreckage

Lynn grew up in Midland, after which his family relocated to Austin in 1978 when he was 12. After Westlake High School, he received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Texas State University in 1989. Despite the family wealth, his music enthusiast mother insisted he get a job, so Lynn went to work for the federal government as a banking regulator.

Originally based in Midland, he worked his way back to Austin through Dallas and San Antonio. At night, he hit the clubs. Initially, the guitar scene at Steamboat on Sixth Street and capital city groups like Sister 7 caught his ear. That changed when he found himself at punk dive the Blue Flamingo in the mid-Nineties.

“There was no stage, a microphone in the middle of the room, and it was crowded. Everyone’s in leather jackets,” he recalls. “I was forced right up against the mic. So I’m standing there, and there’s a band I later found out was the Chumps, who turned out to be maybe my favorite band of all time. Sean MacGowan, the lead singer, comes out, grabs the mic, grabs me by the back of my head, pulls me up to his face, and screams the opening lyrics to ‘Goddamn American Eagle.’

“Afterward, the Motards came on. I made it about halfway through their set. It was so crowded, I had to get down on my hands and knees, crawl under people, and just dive out the door. I ran to my car as fast as I could, telling myself, ‘Oh God, I’m never going back there again. I got out alive!’

“A couple of nights later, I found myself back at the Blue Flamingo.”

The “love affair” with music and the people who make it that began that night drives the way Lynn does business. He doesn’t sign contracts with his artists, and the label pays for not only recording, mastering, and manufacturing, but also for merchandise and tour support – all without requiring the artists to reimburse. Lynn also doesn’t set budgets for individual albums, believing that the specter of hitting a financial target inhibits a band’s ability to produce great work.

“In essence, I say, ‘Record where you want, how you want, when you want, and when the record is done, we’ll put it out,'” states Lynn. “I have a business background, and musicians don’t like business, so I try to take that all off of them. We’re working to create an atmosphere that will allow great art to be made, not an atmosphere where a lot of money will be made.

“Money won’t make you happy, but great art can.”

Ever heard such a proclamation from Sony or the Universal Music Group?

Patron of Punk

Patronage enjoys centuries of tradition, from feudal Japan through Renaissance Europe, from the Medici of Florence sponsoring Galileo Galilei to the Roman Catholic Church commissioning Michelangelo to paint the walls of the Sistine Chapel. Leonardo da Vinci, Ludwig van Beethoven, and William Shakespeare all benefited from patronage. Where would PBS be without the Ford Foundation or Sesame Street without Michael and Susan Dell?

Patronage enjoys centuries of tradition, from feudal Japan through Renaissance Europe.

Without prompting, roots rocker Will Courtney, trance psychsters Suspirians, and jazz master Ingebrigt Håker Flaten all apply the phrase “patron of the arts” to Lynn.

“He’s given us a chance to express ourselves,” says Suspirians’ Marisa Pool. “It feels good to have someone having your back.”

Courtney, whose 2016 local release turned so many heads Lynn is promoting his upcoming disc to other labels, agrees.

“He’s been really open to anything and seeing where we can take this,” he says.

Flaten expresses surprise as well as gratitude.

“I’m lucky to be in a position that I can go in a studio to record a solo bass album and see it released without complications,” remarks the bassist. “Anywhere in the world that’s kind of a unique situation.”

“We’re in the middle of this crazy growth,” Lynn marvels. “I’ve told my employees recently, ‘There’s no option for status quo.’ We’re working with Fields magazine to help them with some fundraising. We’re gonna work with SIMS on some stuff, because I think it’s a great organization.

“One of the things I feel like we haven’t done a lot of yet that I’d like to do more of is impact the community in a positive way. We’re always looking for ways we can give back.”

Sonic Transmissions Festival III showcases a weekend of punk, cumbia, and jazz Sept. 14-16:

Richard Interviewed for Sonic Transmissions Festival

Richard Lynn and Ingebrigt Haker Flaten Talk Sonic Transmissions 2017

Richard Lynn and Ingebrigt Haker Flaten Talk Sonic Transmissions 2017: festival heads discuss adventurous music festival’s 2017 lineup. 

Billing itself as “Austin’s Newest, Most Vital Jazz & Experimental Music Festival”, Austin, Texas’  Sonic Transmissions festival is one of the most unusual fests in the Lone Star State capital, showcasing underground music, often in an improvisational context.

The festival, now three years in the running, runs September 14th-16th (taking place at Barracuda, Kick Butt Coffee, and Kenny Dorham’s Backyard  & Victory Grill, respectively) features a diverse mix of genres, featuring everything from punk, hip-hop, jazz and cumbia, with acts from all over the world.

I recently had a chance to speak to festival founder Ingebrigt Haker Flaten and presenter Richard Lynn (owner of Austin’s Self Sabotage Records) about what attendees could expect for this year’s lineup, which certainly sounds like an intriguing event.  

Enjoy the full Q&A below.

Questions 1-3 by Richard Lynn, owner Self Sabotage Records, Presenter STF

When did you first become involved with Sonic Transmissions and what drew you to the project?

I attended the festival the first two years and loved it each time. Last year, I was sitting there watching Black Spirituals play, and the crowd wasn’t as big as it should have been, and I thought “people would love this festival if they only knew about it.” So I decided to try and help if I could. I believe Ingebrigt has built Sonic Transmissions into the best music festival in Austin in only its third year.

So this is the third year of the festival. How has it grown over the years and what can audiences expect this time around compared to the last two lineups?

Each year has provided incredible performances by artists from around the world. This year we believe that Ingebrigt has put together the best lineup yet. I often say that if someone were to attend every session of the festival, they would be treated to a musical trip around the world.

One thing that separates Sonic Transmissions from other Austin music festivals is its diverse roster: what criteria dictates how the festival is curated, and which acts are you most excited about seeing perform this year?

There simply are no rules, other than bring together the greatest musicians from around the world into a mishmash of music that will blow you away. Many festivals tend to have a narrow selection of bands; Sonic Transmissions is the opposite. Ingebrigt and I were watching Lung Letters at my label’s showcase during SXSW earlier this year, and he loved them. It was his first time to see them, and he turned to me after it was over and said “I want them to play the opening night of the festival.” And I said, “That’s crazy and that’s why I love you.”

I don’t believe there is any set in stone criteria when it comes to the bands that Ingebrigt selects to play the festival. He basically seeks out the best of the best from various musical genres and locales from around the world. One of my record labels, Self Sabotage Records, is presenting the first night with Astral Spirits Records, and not only do we have Lung Letters on the bill, we also have incredible jazz/improv musicians such as Joe McPhee, Ken Vandermark, Susan Alcorn, and Ingebigt himslef, among others. But it’s too hard to pick who I am most excited to see, the festival is full of incredible musicians.

Questions 4- 7 Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, festival founder/curator/ musician

Another thing that makes Sonic Transmissions stand out from the pack is its improvisational aspect. How do you decide which acts will do improv sets together, and how important do you think it is to showcase that aspect of musicianship?

The curation of this festival is based in strong musicianship, everybody we present are masters within their game. So let’s say, when we put together Susan Alcorn, Ken Vandermark and Joe PcPhee, or Charalambides with Joe McPhee –all with almost a lifelong experience within improvisation- we believe this will create new and fresh music because as improvisers their all brilliant and we know that in a meeting between such musicians something special will happen that cannot be planned for! It’s as exciting for the musicians as it is for the audience!!

I’m also a professional musician and travel the world meeting new people all the time through situations like this, my experience in this field help me create a lineup where improvisation becomes an important element and somehow the ‘red thread’ between all the artists on this festival.

I was also curious how the daily lineup is structured given the variety of genres represented in the festival–what is that process like? I imagine it’s more complicated than other more homogenous music festivals.

Our goal is to create a daily lineup with a focus on strong musicianship and which is not genre specific, we wan’t to give the audience a new experience every day by presenting something they will find familiar with something that’s new and unfamiliar.  Like having a particular audience that are there to listen to Carmelo Torres  being surprised with a set by solo guitar and banjo maestro Brandon Seabrook. Or when people come out to hear local punk hero’s Lung Letters they will maybe also get a surprise when listening to Susan Alcorn playing the Steal Guitar in a way they never thought was possible…and so on!!

I see that there is an Indie-Gogo campaign associated with the festival. What are some of the unique perks that donors can receive for helping to fund Sonic Transmissions, and what other ways can supporters get involved?

Supporters can sign up for volunteering through our website (under Support Us).  We can use help with production, artists and more… it’s a great way to get to know artists and to get an inside view of how the festival operates! Everybody who sign up and do a few shifts for us get a free festival pass for the weekend.

And those who donate through the Indie-Gogo campaign get the following:

a unique print by local artists Lindsey Verrill

-a unique EP by Ingebrigt Haker Flaken

-a unique mix-tape with tracks chosen by some of the festival artists.

-a screen printed and signed festival poster

Well that wraps up my questions: Is there anything else you’d like to mention about this year’s Sonic Transmission to potential attendees?

This is a chance to see incredible artists and bands from around the world at a great price!

You can buy tickets and keep track of all things Sonic Transmissions by clicking here for their official website.

Pulse Interviews Little Mazarn’s Lindsey Verrill

Lindsey Verrill
Lindsey Verrill, the musical center of Little Mazarn, has done time in Moonsicles, as well as a number of other diverse bands.

The first instrument Lindsey Verrill learned was cello. And the classical training, on occasion, still seeps into her current performances, despite those happenings frequently including the wavering moans of a bowed saw and an accompanying light show.

Verrill’s time playing cello, though, resulted in a sort of codified language on the stringed instrument; sometimes it makes it tough to get free. And really, she said, vocals seem to be the best way to be emotive, anyway.

Banjo, then, is a suitable go-between, allowing for freewheelin’ calamity while still denoting at least a bit of tradition.

“People have asked me to teach banjo. And I was just thinking about it yesterday. … In reality, I probably could,” Verrill, a Austin, Texas-based multi-instrumentalist, began. “What the banjo means to me: it’s my musical Id. I’d like to stay in the dark about the mechanics of it, so I can be my true self playing it. If I were to teach banjo, I’d have to make some concrete understanding of it. I kind of did that with cello. I really used to go to those unique places with cello before I started teaching it. … It’s become less exploratory.”

For Verrill, codifying her approach to banjo — or any other instrument she might pick up — could snatch away the irreverence of instantaneous performance or the non-traditional way she might approach the musical tools at hand. And while the idea of “jamming” comes along with some heavy baggage, it’s still an enjoyable pursuit — one that should be shorn of expectations and also count as entertainment for the performers, as opposed to some rote repetition of compositions.

“It’s going to the other world,” she said. “One of my friends who I play music with — he plays guitar. And sometimes we jam. He talks about us trading off time in the musical Id. So, one person is telling the rational story. And the other person is going into another world with their instrument. You can’t both go to the other world; one of us has to stay in the human world. We can’t go off into space.”

At her Thursday show performing as Little Mazarn, she’s set to be joined by Jess Johnston on saw and vocalist Kendra Kinsey. But the avant-folksy trio hardly is Verrill’s lone musical outlet. Last year, Moonsicles, a quartet Verrill contributes bass to, issued its second disc, “Bay of Seething,” on Massachusetts’ Feeding Tube Records The compositions come off as pretty concrete, even as there’s a levitating European sci-fi-vibe casting a creepy pallor over each of the six instrumental tracks.

Verrill’s also done stints in the Weird Weeds, a post-rocky psych band, and contributed to Dana Falconberry and Medicine Bow, an Obama-era folk and pop act. But she draws comics, too, a practice the banjo player differentiates from her various other pursuits by commenting on the absurdities in life, in opposition to the serious composerly tack Verrill’s music has been aiming for.

“Why does creativity spin in all these different ways for me,” she asked, comparing her compartmentalized practices to a leaky boat, with each spouting hole representing a different artistic pursuit. “Most musicians are like that; I don’t know why.”

There’re walls divvying up those endeavors, but there’s nothing obstructing the vision Verrill has for Little Mazarn, which, despite covering folk-world standards like “The Grey Funnel Line” or “Rain and Snow,” does so with ghostly harmonies and new music’s adventurousness.

“I kind of learned how to sing because of those songs and from being taught banjo. It’s a folk instrument, so when you learn it and you’re looking to people who play it, you end up finding your voice through that. … Same thing as if you’re learning to play guitar and you learn ‘Blackbird,’ ” Verrill said about gaining confidence in her vocals. “On the banjo, I think it’s the same; the canon is so strong. For me, I also kind of have an aesthetic in my mind that I, outside of writing songs, think of as my voice. I just play the songs in my own voice and that’s what they sound like.”

Dave Cantor is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7248, or @dv_cntr on Twitter.