Eastwood artists are the best, aren't they? Now, Jared Artaud from the Vacant Lots has just started a new club night in New York - mixing art, poetry and rock'n'roll. We talked to Jared to find out more...
Jared Artaud plays an Airline Twin Tone guitar with his band The Vacant Lots, one of New York's leading purveyors of noisy rock'n'roll and psych - true heirs to that great city's tradition of darker, less commercial music such as the Velvet Underground and Suicide.
So it's great news that he decided to start a new club night in New York - Damage Control. We chatted to Jared to find out more...
WHEN DID YOU START DAMAGE CONTROL? WHY DID YOU START IT?
JARED: A couple months ago I was offered a few DJ gigs upstairs at Bowery Electric in downtown Manhattan. That’s when the idea of creating a space for people with a shared musical taste came to mind. A context for likeminded musicians, artists and creative types to come together & hang out.
I wanted to start something with intent and meaning where you could escape reality. I remember playing some Gun Club track and thinking what if this place was something more than just me being a human jukebox? That’s what gave me the idea for DAMAGE CONTROL. What if we made a night out of it and brought in poets, writers, artists, bands, theater, etc to perform. And make it multi media and multi sensory too. I’ve started collaborating with Michael Handis on it. He’s a killer designer & comes from the fashion industry. He makes visuals that are projected on the walls throughout the night and he DJ’s too. Michael said “we’re all here in NYC, but there wasn’t the right place, or night, to connect.” I want DAMAGE CONTROL to be that space.
IS NYC's NIGHT LIFE AS GOOD AS IT'S CRACKED OUT TO BE? IT WAS LEGENDARY IN THE 70's and 80's, WITH CLUBS SUCH AS CBGB's, etc
JARED: Well that’s just it. You hear an awful lot about what happened in the past but what do you hear about what’s happening today? It’s become harder to find a place that feels like something is happening. I don’t mean a music venue or some kinda bar. This is something that happens and is created within a space that already exists.
I wanted a time & space that was recurring on certain nights & you knew if you went there you would like the music and maybe meet some other like minded souls too.There is still a large pool of people that live in New York that like to listen to The Gun Club, Cramps, Velvet Underground, Richard Hell, and Suicide. That music is timeless but it’s just hard to find a place where you can get it consistently. I think one of the reasons why I started DAMAGE CONTROL was to fill some kind of void.
DO YOU THINK NYC IS (STILL?) RECEPTIVE TO NEW BANDS, NEW SOUNDS, THINGS NOT REALLY MAINSTREAM?
JARED: It’s hard to live in the city. It takes a commitment to live here now if you are an artist. New York City is elastic and has been through a lot & continues to change yet it remains central for the arts. New York City isn’t going anywhere but that isn’t the same for the artists that live here. I think as with most cities things are divided more due to the economic and political climate that we live in.
That is what I wanted to do with DAMAGE CONTROL - give new bands a platform & a means to grow their art. I feel this is a great place to develop your art. I would encourage more bands to get in contact with us on our social pages or come down & check out the space to see if it’s something you want to be part of. The next one is April 24th. These nights are happening over at 327 Bowery.
We curate the bands & DJ all night.
They have this stage at the back and I remember the first night I was there I had this glimpse of those ending scenes of David Lynch’s recent Twin Peaks. You know, where the bands play in that atmospheric Bang Bang bar. I was thinking it would be great to capture a little bit of that but turn it into something else.
TELL US WHAT A TYPICAL DAMAGE CONTROL NIGHT IS LIKE...
JARED: As you walk down Houston and bang a right on the Bowery and pass the infamous number 315 where so much history happened and where a black draped awning that coffin wraps the original CBGB’s now reads John Varvatos, which is always a sore sight for your eyes that’s like seeing a monument of Baudelaire replaced by one of the Kardashian’s.
And you’ve just passed Bleecker Street and you know you’re just half a block away from the neon blue lights of the Bowery Electric now. And as you walk up the short ramp that leads to the front door. And if you’re lucky the dismantled trash stench of the subway perfume from underground doesn’t creep up on you, you walk in with your senses not being assaulted. And you see the small white candles that lace the ledges and tables and bar.
The night usually starts off with a DJ set by No.107. The lights dim and atmospheric. Maybe there is a really trashy VHS playing some old Alan Vega performance on the flat screens above the bar, and visuals line the back of the stage at the far end of the room with fucked up VHS faded neon projections courtesy of Michael Handis. And then there are some Fender amps all horizontal like and a few drums that line the stage next to a fucking theater of the absurd gold fan.
Then the first band will play for about a half an hour or so, then another DJ set, another band, and more human jukebox music, then after the last band plays I’ll DJ until the end of the night. DAMAGE CONTROL is an escape from the endless cycles of the city & a place where you can meet like minded souls. DAMAGE CONTROL isn’t a one night stand it’s a recurring thing - you can come back the next time & recreate and recapture those feelings over and over again. DAMAGE CONTROL is a combination of sound and vision of live performances and poetry with curated music and visual art. And hopefully the hangover doesn’t last too long, so you can still go to work or do whatever it is you do in the honorable morning.
HOW WAS IT LIKE PERFORMING WITH POET TONY O'NEIL?
JARED: Man, that was a great night. I was standing playing distorted cowboy chords while Tony read his poetry from Songs From The Shooting Gallery. We were backed by visuals by Michael Handis. I started producing albums recently and we have been talking about recording an entire album this way with Tony with just guitars & spoken word. I kind of had this idea of doing an entire album like “Make The Connection” by The Vacant Lots.
It’s something I have been wanting to do for a really long time. Tony has been a literary influence of mine for a long time. I remember when I discovered his mindfuck of a book Sick City at a going-out-of-business sale at Borders back in Burlington, Vermont around 2010 I think. The whole store looked like the aftermath of a bomb strike with books totally disarrayed and scattered on the floors and tables everywhere. Rejects and best sellers and empty book racks. It seemed like an appropriate setting to discover a Tony O’Neill book. Hopefully we will perform this again. We were thinking it would be cool to do some shows in Paris, Berlin and Los Angeles.
WHAT ABOUT THE VACANT LOTS? TELL US YOUR PLANS FOR THE FORTHCOMING FUTURE?
JARED: We just got back from our tour with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in Europe, played a show in NYC last month & currently working on our new EP with Anton Newcombe (Brian Jonestown Massacre) that we recorded in Berlin recently. The EP should be out this year on Anton’s label A Recordings.