To Live and Shave in L.A.’s Swansong

what punk bands always proposed but never lived up to.” – Thurston Moore, 2011


By Blurt Staff


Long-running experimental art/punk rockers To Live and
Shave in L.A.
is callig it quits after nearly two decades of terrorizing the
underground (not to mention pissing off the hipster elite as often as possible). To
that end, Tom Smith & Co. are delivering their final opus, The Cortège, this fall. Smith, Ben
Wolcott, and Rat Bastard will be joined by an array of colorful characters
including Don Fleming and Anderew W.K.. Let take a look at some bullet points,
shall we?


*The Cortège is the closing installment to two decades of remarkable albums and riveting
live performances. It’s produced by Don Fleming and features liner notes from
Ray Brassier.


*This collective of legendary music-makers has been
around since the early 1990’s when they crossed paths in the early Miami Beach
punk/noise/experimental scene. The TLASILA collective for the new album includes
Ben Wolcott (oscillator and treatments), Rat Bastard (violin), Tom Smith (lead
vocals), Misty Martinez (lead vocal on “Flattering Circles of Hell,” backing
vocals, saxophone), Andrew W.K. (backing vocals), Nondor Nevai (backing
vocals), Cherie Lily (backing vocals), Mark Morgan (guitar), Chris Grier
(guitar), Don Fleming (guitar), Dimthingshine (percussion and voice), Mark
Shellhaas (percussion), Kelly Jamison (percussion), Graham Moore (synth
modules), Gaybomb (magnetic card readers), Patrick Spurlock (electronics).


*Don Fleming: “We recorded The Cortège at the Sonic Youth studio in Hoboken in 2007. There were sixteen musicians
and we wanted to avoid the enormous cluster-fuck of everyone performing at
once. Rat Bastard cleverly devised a system to record each song with only four
musicians, plus Tom Smith singing. More players were added as it fit each song.
We wanted the musicians to be reactive to Tom’s lyrics and melodies and not
overwhelm his performance. I knew how personal the lyrics were to Tom and that
guided the tracking and my mixing. Ultimately, I wanted to let his words tell
the story.”


*Ray Brassier: “The
is a heroically significant rock record in an era when rock has
become terminally insignificant.”


*Tom Smith: “My son, only in his early 20s, was
dodging oblivion in Iraq; my father – always a portentous, begrudgingly waggish
hulk – grew progressively gaunt as he succumbed to cancer and dementia; and,
through Bush’s odious machinations, America was befouled, perhaps irredeemably
so. The Cortège was a gut response.”


*Chris Grier: “There was nothing like TLASILA, and I
can’t see how there will be anything like it in the future. Tom Smith, Rat
Bastard and Ben Wolcott leave us with an extensive oeuvre that illustrates
their intellectual rigor, their wicked humor, and their fearless approach.
Their smarts were obvious, but they were also total badasses. And it all came
out in the art. The body of work doesn’t merely stand out, it gives off the
sort of coruscating blast you get when you dunk a highway flare into a bucket
of kerosene.” 



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