Todd Lynne is a man who speaks softly, and carries a big stick. Only instead of a two-by-four or tree branch, Lynne wields a huge bag of noisy tricks.
For more than a decade, he has been a devoted, prolific participant in and leader of Central and Gulf Coast Florida's respective noise music scenes.
He can be found wrapping a t-shirt around his face like some ceremonial head garment. Or hosting shows at Noon under bridges and in the parking lots of strip clubs. Or pursuin his highly idiosyncratic, completely personalized approach to DIY art and music that's become a touchstone of noise music in the increasingly-not-new Millenium.
Cephia's Treat - Lynne's record label, co-founded with his brother Ian, who passed away tragically in 2004 - was a quiet-but-integral, highly influential cornerstone of the 2000s noise music explosion. And as the genres and scenes associated with that activity continue to evolve and expand, Cephia's is always on the frontline of Florida's sonic battle with itself.
The aforementioned pedigree has landed Lynne the only curatorial position during INC that gets to pick main-stage bands, besides, of course, Conference organizer Rat Bastard. So as apart of our series of conversations with artists performing at the festival's 10 year anniversary, we knew the guy behind the past 10 years of INC's Friday Night probably had some interesting shit to say.
Crossfade: How did Cephia's Treat connect with Rat and the Squelchers?
Todd Lynne: I stumbled upon The Laundry Room Squelchers website. And after seeing the photos of a bunch people on the floor, I contacted Rat about playing the first F.A.D. show in February of 2002. They came down, played, and Ian and I thought it was the most badass stuff ever. A few weeks later Rat invited Ian to join a Squelchers tour and that set a lot of things in motion.
Did Tampa's Bloodfest and INC start in any kind of conjunction? My impression is that its completely coincidental - and that much more insane as a result - that these two fests started at the exact same time. First Bloodfest in Summer of 2003, first INC in February of 2004.
There was definitely already something going on in Tampa by that point. We had already done the YUKhONIC / j.f.k.s tour, had a ton of the F.A.D. shows, and had a bunch of releases out.
When we met the Kinky Noise and Cheapo_Records crews things just blew up. Lots of ideas, lots of activity. This was late 2001 and up until that point my brother and I were just doing our own thing. We were trudging along, putting out records, playing here and there but meeting those kids just completely changed everything. Then meeting Rat a little bit after that sealed the deal.
Rat's website is a maze in the dark, so my info source may not be entirely correct, but according to the site (I think), Haves&Third's played the first year and then didn't make an appearance again until 2009, when you started (unintentionally or otherwise) the subtle tradition of opening the show. Of course, you played in other ensembles and played a role in curating the Friday night, but what accounted for that gap in solo appearances?
Haves&Thirds did not play the first INC. I don't think Haves played the second one either. Too much stress trying to play, and keep things going, so it seemed better to just give the slot to someone who could utilize it better. Then it was decided to just play first, get it out of the way, and concentrate on the rest of the evening.
Of course the sound has taken some turns over the years and most recently in maybe a more pronouncedly structured way, but, as long as I've been seeing H&T (since about 2006), you've had a consistent sound/aesthetic that has always relied on ethereal / ambient / spooky sounds. Was the project ever anything else?
There are "rules." always has been in order to keep output flowing. When you are too free with your ability, two things happen: Either too much, which means burn out for you and listeners. Or too little because you can't ever decide when something is finished. Haves&Thirds has strict rules.
When you wrap a t-shirt around your head, is it a particular shirt or a particular reason you pick the shirt that you pick.
The shirts do have meaning. Maybe it's color-coordinated or maybe the printing on the hood has some significance. Like when in Philadelphia a Dead Milkmen shirt will likely be "hooded."
Did Pro Bro Gold invent Technoise?
There has been a bedroom dance scene in Tampa for a loooooong time. Jon as Turmoiled Functions and Uh-Oh Spades! were two of the first ones to really use beats and keys, but Brandon first as The Fas'ners and later as Pro Bro Gold definitely was the one who made into what it is. He was the one who brought the fog machines, the lasers, and the strobes. He brought the disco ball.
Are Merchandise killing hardcore?
Merchandise are killing...with kindness.
Tell me the one about Hepatitis Youth.
A long time ago there was a bunch of "youths" who had just had it up to here (motions to forehead).
The first wave of tapes that you guys pressed in high school...what does that stuff sound like? Chickadees and what else? And then S.L.D. was the first like long-running band that preceded Yukhonic? Lay the smackdown.
Ian, his best friend and me and mine in different combinations produced a handful of bands in Lake Wales during our high/middle school years.
The Chickadees was our first band where we put out more than one tape. A one-night band here and there and then there was The Stitches, which did three tapes and some shirts. Next was The Snots which was our first band to actually play a couple of shows. Then, days after I graduated high school, Ian and I moved to Tampa and just holed up at mom's, wrote a bunch of songs, co-commiserated, watched movies, and made plans to make "different" music.
After maybe a year we got S.L.D. up and running which was our first real baby. We were totally into what we were doing but the hardcore kids hated the keyboards and the keyboard kids hated hardcore so we didn't get many shows or love. So we just recoiled back into our own little world and did our own thing, only worrying about impressing each other.
What were live responses to S.L.D. like? I've heard the 7'' ten million times and the first time the keyboards kick in over the hardcore, I always can't believe how seamless it is. Did you guys tour? Did you ever run into another hardcore bands with keyboards?
No tour. We only played a dozen shows, but we practiced and recorded all the time. It was just an honest mix of our favorite music. Figured, "Why not?" We were really into Void and New Order, DC Hardcore and New Wave. We were completely ignorant of anybody else doing anything like it at the time, but we were total hermits. We would emerge, already accepting that nobody would like us but that was where we pulled our drive.
Don't get me wrong we definitely weren't depressed little wieners moping around. We were having a blast being the "outsiders." We even had the local press convinced we had been signed to Touch and Go and when they sniffed around for interviews we would show up and make up these crazy, elaborate stories. As far as they know that record is still coming out.
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Cephia's has always maintained a boutique / DIY craft element. I remember the first time I ever ordered something from you, I bought a bunch of stuff because the names and descriptions sounded cool and it was so cheap. I ended up getting tapes shoved into gutted stuffed animals and hollowed-out books.
My brother and I were absolutely best friends, and spent all of our waking hours of youth together so over time all of our ideas would come to fruition. Many nights were spent sitting around, bouncing ideas, plotting, writing, arguing, playing music, arguing some more, improving ideas, and, ultimately, constantly improving. Packaging was one thought that would hit the drawing board. The idea was that getting people through the door to begin with is the toughest part.
International Noise Conference 2013. Presented by Rat Bastard. Wednesday, February 6, through Saturday, February 9. Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. Visit squelchers.com.