A Silver Mount Zion Collage, 2006
Carla and the band relax.
Note: This is intended as a follow up to the cover story in the August Discorder (in which I also have a Nomeansno interview).
I interviewed Carla Bozulich by cell phone in July, just before she was going onstage at a
“Jessica, who plays violin in A Silver Mount Zion, was in the Geraldine Fibbers for a short time and that’s how I met all of them, and you know, we just hit it off. The last time I played in
(Efrim Menuck offers, on the experience of working with Bozulich, that “it was great. It was a complicated and difficult but really good process and I feel touched and honoured to have been a part of it.” More from him below.)
Though Thierry, Sophie, and Efrim (along with multi-instrumentalist and Marc Ribot collaborator Ismaily) were her band on Evangelista, Carla Bozulich’s backup band for the August 16th Vancouver show
Carla describes Evangelista as “the most raw, kind of heart on your sleeve sort of thing” she’s done, but many people are finding it a bit darker than she intended it to be.
“It’s funny because I’ve read a few reviews of the record where they listen to the record, they listen to the title track, the first track, Evangelista, and they
Though it was p
“Yeah, I do, I feel a power inside of myself that’s immense in that I have gift for throwing out of my body into the atmosphere and into the audience and I recognize that in her, too, and I feel really lucky that I can manifest that.”
Since the new album does acknowledge the painfulness of life, in its pursuit of healing, I asked her if she had any political intentions in making it (these seem to be dark times, where there is much in the world that needs to be healed).
“Well, certainly it was meant to reach out in a way… I mean, the voice of the person that is singing the first cut, or preaching, or whatever you want to call it, it’s almost a sermon… it was certainly meant to reach out, it’s like, reaching out to people the way you do in church, the way the preacher does, and there’s no limit to who you’re reaching out to. I mean, only a finite number of people are going to hear it, but there really isn’t any limit to who you’re calling out to, you know…? The album to me is something that is very personal to me, but I don’t think I’m unique in my feelings – do you understand what I mean? … I try to kind of find common ground, I do find common ground all the time… and I like to nurture that in my writing in general, because my writing’s very very very personal, and really, you know… I respond directly to what’s happening in my life, but I also am keenly aware of the fact that I’m not the only person that has these feelings, these are the feelings of human beings and, um, I feel a little bit lucky that maybe I can put some of them into words, maybe in ways that some people haven’t been able to formulate before for themselves, and so I think it’s nice for them to have that, you know, as a present… I like to try to give my music away as a present.”
The next night, I had a slightly longer conver
“The first many many years with Godspeed You! Black Emperor being a band with records out and touring we were all working a variety of jobs and, and doing what we could to make ends meet. I remember between maybe the second and third Godspeed tour I got cut off welfare because I was out of country, yeah? And so I came back and made an appointment with my welfare worker, and assured her even though I was in this band and hopefully, y’know, someday we would earn some sort of living, right now the band wasn’t earning enough money for me to pay my rent, and she actually made me sign this declaration and get is signed by a justice of the peace,
“So, y’know, I mean, it took awhile, I mean, we’re lucky. I dunno, I have sort of a skewed perspective on the whole thing. I
This frustrates Efrim, since A Silver Mount Zion ARE doing things independently; the abuse of the term in our current indy-crazed milieu pisses him off. “I wake up in the morning and turn on CBC radio, yeah? And I have to hear Gian Fucking Gomeshi, right, gushing about what he’s terming as the newest independent genius thing, right, and then he plays some band that’s just released a record on either a major label or a so called independent label that’s owned by a major label. Now, I don’t think it’s like, splitting hairs to like, sort of wonder why, music, like what the hell does the word independent mean in that context, y’know, like, I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request that other sort of intelligent or semi-intelligent grown up human beings think twice before they describe something lazily, y’know? Does that sound ridiculous?”
Toward the end of our talk, I asked him about the references to Phil Ochs and Nina Simone in the work of GY!BE and A Silver Mount
“Absolutely. It comes again to the idea that we’re, like, y’know, musicians by trade and so that means that… I can’t think of any happy endings in music, in sort of like the personal lives of people who are engaged in this thing of making music, there are no happy endings; there are plenty of cautionary tales and tragically short lives. It’s a train wreck. The history of modern popular music is a train wreck. It’s got all these utopian ideas bubbling everywhere you know, like a song can make you feel like you’re not alone in the world, that there’s purpose to your life, music has that power, but at the
I mention that Ochs was one of my
“Absolutely, I mean, Mingus too, what the hell, there’s so many.”
We went on to talk somewhat inconclusively about “what seems to be the last chapter of Bob Dylan’s life;” Efrim has “no idea what the fuck goes through that man’s brain,” but thinks that Dylan is “acutely aware of how far he’s fallen… I don’t know what he’s self-aware about, but I think he has an awareness that he’s not what he once was. I dunno, he’s like a ghost to me, a ghost with some sort of weird conscience.”)
Efrim really doesn’t give himself credit for how intelligent and articulate he is; he’s certainly one of the most interesting people I’ve interviewed, and the person most comfortable exploring the meaning of what he does. Yet he commented more than once during the interview that he didn’t feel particularly articulate. The contradiction fits, in a way, with his stage presence. Seeing GY!BE at the Liquid Room in Tokyo some years ago, I was shocked how on the one hand Efrim managed to seem extremely self-conscious, hiding behind a vast wad of hair, and on the other, an amazingly charismatic and attractive figure. (I mean, how does that work, exactly?). I’m singularly glad that he’s singing now, and I love the choral aspects of Horses in the Sky, A Silver Mount Zion’s most recent studio venture. We talked about that at some length, most of which made it into Discorder. Here’s a quote that didn’t: “I mean, when Godspeed started playing together, the violence of our society that was like, really pretty buried isn’t buried anymore, it’s on the surface always now, so, I dunno, it just comes down to feeling that now’s the time where you need words, you need ideas, you need talking, you need at least something like that to communicate anything.”
Finally, I asked him about the future of GY!BE, officially on hiatus. Did they have plans to regroup?
“Yeah, there’s no plan, I mean, no, there’s no plan. I’m sure that Godspeed
There was a lot more, but the best of it made it into Discorder (I mean, surely more people read Discorder than my blog, right?). As I write, there are still tickets available around town for the show. I haven’t been so excited about seeing a band play in… well, since the jazz festival. Yeah, okay, that was only a month ago. Shut up.