Those of us familiar with the history of Hardcore Music know that Greg Ginn is not just the man, but a brilliant guitar god.
He formed Black Flag in 1977, eventually releasing the band's records (as well as Bad Brains, Minutemen, Descendants, Sonic Youth, and lots more) on his own label SST. Black Flag broke up in 1986, after seriously fucking shit up and Greg went on to do tons of other stuff. So, let us jump to the present. At age 54, he is currently on tour with two bands: The Taylor Texas Corrugators and Jambang. They both perform this Thursday, March 5 at Tobacco Road. I was lucky enough to have three separate conversations with Greg via cell phone on Monday afternoon. During our first phone call, he was checking out of a hotel in Tallahassee. For the second, he was driving towards Gainesville. And during the third, he was in his Gainesville hotel room with plenty of time to chat. His quotes have broken up into sections.
Cyberspace and the Music Biz:
We were in a restaurant the other day with all these great old album covers decorating the walls. All that is real good, but I wouldn't want to go back there. I can get in my van and it is all in my laptop. I think the internet is good for music. If I was restricted to a phonograph record player while traveling, I would seldom be around my record collection or a place to play it. The flexibility of cyberspace is great. People talk about file sharing and this and that, but that's a reality of life. When there were cassettes...people recorded more on cassettes than they bought the albums. They would make copies for their friends or whatever. So, in certain ways it hasn't changed so much. As far as the music business, any kind of change can be a disruptive pain in the ass. But I am more focused on actual people hearing the music. There are so many different ways for people to get their music out now and promote it. There is so much stuff out there; you just have to weed through it. That is a great thing.
Cats Having Fun
I did cat rescue in Long Beach for about 12 years. We built a cat sanctuary in the SST office building. We housed cats that were un-adoptable due to age, or being afraid of people, or physical problems, etc. We had over 100 cats. But, I recently moved to Texas. So I worked out a deal with a cat rescue group in LA, because cats don't really like to move like that. So now in Texas, I'm getting a new building just for the cats. It will take about a year to get all the zoning stuff. That was one of my reasons for moving to Texas, the property is inexpensive and I can have a good cat sanctuary. When you play music, it's all about "me" this and "I" that...you're saying "me" 90% of the time. I just wanted to do something that was outside of myself. So I started this non-profit group called, Cats Having Fun. There is a need for it in Texas, and that is kind of my passion. I devote a lot of my time to it.
Black Flag and Punk
It's hard for me to look at it in a microscope. It's just...you know...I don't know what to add to to what's already been said a million times. People who are interested have already read that stuff over and over. There is just nothing more to add.
When I got into punk rock, the whole thing was about doing something new. But then it got known as a certain style of music with certain parameters, and at that point it got boring. It didn't start out that way. The first bands had a lot of diversity, and people were doing all kinds of crazy stuff. People think, "Oh, I'm sticking to my punk rock roots." That means you should be doing something new and exciting things all the time.
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I got bored of rock music in the 90's, so I started getting into a lot of electronic stuff.
Jambang and The Taylor Texas Corrugators
We've been on tour for awhile now. The same people are in both bands. There is a drummer and a mandolin player. I play bass for The Texas Corrugators, and guitar for Jambang. They are both instrumental bands, but they are very different. They are influenced by rock, jazz, bluegrass, classical, even country. I do a lot of stuff with a guitar synthesizer. The Texas Corrugators is completely improvisational. With Jambang, we are synched up to video that goes with the music, so the songs are structured. Jambang is more of an electronic hybrid.
Right now, I prefer not working with a vocalist. As far as improvising, there's not that many vocalists that do that. It would be nice to find one.