Illustration: Mike Wohlberg
For this third and final liaison with Liam Wilson we’re going to veer a few clicks off the old access road, past the abandoned general store and on into a narrow, nigh-forgotten dale. We’ll wander deep along its mosquito-freckled gulley until we broach the cottonwood grove’s lavish canopy where there’ll be hootin’, hollerin’ n’ huffin’ 16 Horsepower’s brooding admixture of provincial instrumentation, tuberculosis-addled Americana and busted-blood vessel sermonizing. I hear the pit-stained morlocks ‘round these parts call this head-trip Sackcloth n’ Ashes. So yeah… it’s a country record, (but in a Midsommer kind of way.)
Now, I’ll admit to being previously unfamiliar with these brothers in Christ, (I wasn’t even aware of the direct connection between 16 Horsepower and the more familiar Wovenhand outfit.) I’ll also admit that this record ain’t precisely my mason jar of homemade jam but there is an underlying intensity to the band that completely fascinates. And the live footage… great balls of fire! I can appreciate how seeing a 16 Horsepower performance would catalyze a religious conversion or two in The Good Lord’s favor. This is where I experience the proverbial ‘vapors,’ (cue the tattered fainting-couch.) 16 Horsepower owned in a live setting. They on their lonesome could’ve forced Jericho’s storied walls through a cheesegrater—much less yank the cinder blocks out from underneath some anonymous nightclub; such is 16 Horsepower’s command and conviction. (It’s worth mentioning that I received most of my 16 Horsepower ‘Cliff’s Notes’ via the Sarah Vos directed documentary The Preacher; freely available on YouTube with the link provided at the end of the article.)
This final address from Liam is a tremendous amount of fun, (despite the underlying muck of many of its themes) and, as you shall see, our jaw-session revolving around a non-metal band had us talking way more metal than did our chat about Focus in Part II. (Oh, somehow also 100% more Tori Amos this go ‘round; you’re welcome.) So quit being a baby. Hide your pot-stills in the thicket, gather up your tithing coins and throw on your least gnatty dinner-jacket and/or itchiest prairie dress. The tribulations are tunin’ up and you’ve got plenty of explaining to do.
“…at first the band were simply called Horsepower, but a lot of people thought that was something to do with heroin. That really pissed me off so I decided to put something in front of it to distract them. “I got ’16’ from a traditional American folk song where a man is singing about his dead wife and 16 black horses are pulling her casket up to the cemetery. I liked the image of 16 working horses.” —David Eugene Edwards
Fallow Heart: So, 16 Horsepower’s Sackcloth and Ashes... Tell me about your first impressions of the record. How’d you discover it?
Liam Wilson: I was probably 17, (so it was roughly 1997.) I remember my friend Sharon telling me that I’d probably dig the album. She put it on -and let’s just say, it was definitely not what I was expecting. I think she was even one of my friends that I knew also loved Shudder to Think, (so she had good taste) but I also knew that she’d probably not be pushing a metal record on me. I guess what I mean is that I honestly didn’t expect to like the album as much as I did but when I heard the first track [“I Seen What I Saw”] I was hooked by the second it got to the chorus. It has that darkness and the minor keys but also -and this kind of gets back to something I love about Cynic or almost anything that I really connect with—it has an honesty to it. It’s ‘true to form.’ It seems to lack ego and simultaneously to be kind of swaggering. I don’t really understand how they [16 Horsepower and Cynic] balance that so well but maybe it’s just because both Sackcloth and Ashes and Focus seem to be either channeling a higher power or else are just completely letting the muse run wild and the musicians themselves are just the instruments of its expression. I think that that’s basically what fascinates me about the devotional phases of certain artists. It’s like they’re just trying to take themselves out of the equation as much as possible and just be able to witness this artwork take form.
So anyway, I was around 17 when I first heard this record and it just became like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ I had to hear more. Not too long afterwards I was able to catch 16 Horsepower live and just seeing David Eugene Edwards, man… Look, you mentioned that you’d seen that early 16 Horsepower documentary and so I guess you’ve seen some of the live footage where he basically dips into that Pentecostal, ‘speaking in tongues’ thing. And as much as I know that it’s at least a little bit for show there was still something about it live, (in the context of the music and the total experience,) that was so… just awesome! And I mean ‘awesome’ in a totally literal sense. Like, I was in awe but kind of in horror at the same time. It scared me and it entertained me and made me want to be a better songwriter and made me think that like, any and all other music besides this didn’t matter, (at least in the moment.) This was the most amazing music being performed anywhere in the world right at that moment. I don’t know, it just fucking hit me! And I guess seeing it live with his weird, twitchy, medium-channeling thing; being kind of ‘touched by the Spirit’ was also weirdly cool. Like I said, even if it seems a little showy, there was something about it… It’s kind of like he’s the David Blaine of this shit, you know? (Actually, that’s a terrible analogy.) He’s like the Houdini of this shit. Or, like, I know it’s all a puppet-show but I can’t really make out any strings…
FH: I’ve actually not seen him speaking in tongues but I’ve witnessed the phenomenon loads of times. I grew up in a ‘charismatic’ Episcopalian Church and the sermons were super emotional: a lot of weeping and sporadic dancing in the aisles and also plenty of speaking in tongues. And like anyone, I’ve always seen these televangelists that begin speaking in tongues right before they ask you to fork over your money but I’ll also say that my mom’s among the most honest people that I’ve ever known and she would speak in tongues on occasion. She had nothing to gain; she’s as genuine as they come. I don’t understand the phenomena at all, (‘glossolalia,’ as it’s called.) But I guess anything can be appropriated for whatever you want to appropriate it for.
You could start fucking garbling whatever and have all the avarice in the world and it doesn’t mean that the real divine occurrence doesn’t inhabit some people’s experience. As you say, ‘what the fuck do I know?’
Wilson: Right. And that kind of loops back to the Extol/Azusa dudes. Christer (Espevoll, guitars) and David (Husvik/drums) both grew up in a Pentecostal church. The name Azusa partially comes from the ‘Azusa Street Revival,’ which was basically the birth of the Pentecostal church in California. But Azusa is also the name of an Indian healing girl. I think they named the town Azusa [located in San Gabriel Valley, CA] after her.
FH: I hadn’t heard that last part, but I dig the way that it feminizes the roots of the band name.
This is nothing but a total divarication but thinking about the relationship of metal and Christianity frequently reminds me of my mom. She’s one of those Evangelicals that -if all of them were like her- I think believers and non-believers alike would pretty much mesh. There’d be much more appreciation for one another and indulgence of differing viewpoints in general. Like David Eugene Edwards, she took the Bible as completely literal but was really troubled by many of its implications. I mean, she’d literally weep at the thought of people suffering an eternity in hell. And if you really believe in Hell, I mean, shouldn’t you weep for your fellow man? She loathed it; none of this smug, ‘you’ll get yours on Judgement Day, you cocksucker,’ shit. She genuinely loves people no matter what. I remember bringing home a Kreator cassette and her asking to read through the lyrics, (something that never led to a fun conversation.) Suddenly she’s tearing up and I was like, ‘Jesus. What, Mom!?’ you know; rolling my eyes. And she’s just blubbering about the possibility of Mille Petroza going to hell and asking if there’s an address that she can send a letter off to so that she could let him know that not only Jesus, but she, (Gayle) also loves him and wants him to know that he can write to her any time if he’s feeling troubled and needs a supportive ear… (needless to say, 12-year-old me was aghast at the notion.) ‘Mille, give my mom a shout and let her know that you’re okay!’
Wilson: Man, blessings to Gayle! I guess I can relate. During the ‘Satanic Panic’ era I had my tapes taken away, (not because they were Satanic but because my gay moms thought that maybe they were misogynistic).
FH: Oh, and they probably were!
Wilson: Yeah, okay; they probably were. But I remember my Somewhere in Time poster—I mean, totally in future-land, with all the hieroglyphic symbols and everything—being combed over and I remember being questioned, ‘Are these—you know—coded, anti-feminist sigils?’ [sighs] I mean, it was an interesting twist on the ‘Satanic Panic’ thing.
FH: That’s super funny that she’d interpret it in that way! Sometimes I feel that we’re all essentially journalists, (not for a publication but I mean for one another.) We all have our pressing issue—partially because of the body and the point in space-time that we inhabit—and we’re all just reporting back to each other on what it’s like to experience this world from our specific perspective.
Wilson: Yeah, I can see that. I mean, you don’t see the world as it is, you see it as you are.
FH: Right, right. It’s funny that you used the word ‘honesty’ when we were talking about 16 Horsepower because in that documentary The Preacher, David Eugene Edwards brings up Amy Grant and her ilk, (essentially Christian-pop institutions) and he’s like, ‘that sort of music never felt honest to me; I felt like I heard honesty coming from Nick Cave and from Joy Division and from AC DC,’ right? He said, ‘I didn’t agree with anything that those bands had to say but I felt like they were being truthful with me.’ And so, it’s also interesting to think of 16 Horsepower as a subversive Christian rock group by not sanding down those rough edges of the faith.
Wilson: Yeah, like punk, Christian.
FH: Maybe, but you’re on Solid State Records, bro. I’m pretty familiar with Tooth and Nail and Solid State and I’ve never heard a Christian Punk joint that sounded remotely like this! So let’s move onto the lyrics. One of the things worth noting is just this the way that David Eugene Edwards focuses on the cadence of the words; how they play amongst each other syllabically. Like,’I seen you in your red room laughing/ with your shinin’ coffee can/so many wrongs/ all kinds of going on/ I held my head and ran.’ You’ve already got so much of that alliterative quality while remaining incredibly descriptive, right? Or the line, ‘I saw you dancing on the pine porch-creaking.’ That just feels really good to say. I imagine it would feel really good to sing, as well.
Wilson: Exactly! Like I really tap into his line ‘I would forgive your wrongs if I were Abel/For my own, I feel great shame/ I take a brick to the back of your head if I was Cain.
FH: Right! It’s savvy. I dig the wordplay here because it invites the idea of David Eugene Edwards as a duality, reconciling spiritual discipline and carnal violence. And here we are, coming off of talking about the Cynic album where in Masvidal’s philosophy, we are literally all Cain and we are literally all Abel you know? You put a brick to the back of anyone’s head, you’re doing it to yourself, (a parallel to Jesus Christ’s admonition that when you feed or clothe someone in need, you’re doing the same for him.) How’s that for fucking irony?
Wilson: Well, I love that the 16 Horsepower record is more violent and gory than the band that was actually coming out of the Florida death metal scene. You know, consider the song “Neck on the New Blade” or the “Strong Man,” where he says, ‘get a rope and make it quick.’ I kind of think it’s funny to juxtapose these two records in the sense that like, the ‘fire and brimstone’ is actually, genuinely scary, as opposed to something like a Cannibal Corpse record, which is gory but almost cartoonish.
FH: Cartoonish; definitely. What’s kind of chilling to me is that “The Strong Man,” is basically a religious revenge fantasy, which isn’t exactly uncommon, you know. ‘End of days’ prophecies where people will be begging for mercy and it won’t be given to them….
Wilson: ‘Religious revenge fantasy.’ I’ve never actually heard it put like that. That’s kind of awesome. Like, Brimstone porn!
FH: Brimstone porn! Nailed it! That’s our genre, pal; let’s invest our savings into that! But to continue my train of thought, what’s interesting to me about the narrative in this song is, (consider the gist of the lyrics) the ‘strong man’s’ going to be the last one to confess the truth of the Christian god and there must be no pity for him; we have to slaughter him where he stands. Again, ‘grab a rope and make it quick.’ Well, I grew up in the deep South -like the motherfucking heart of Dixie- and in addition to a huge Evangelical social order, there was a sizeable ‘white power’ scene there as well, (probably more so when I was a kid… I like to think its dwindled down by this point.) There was a lot of this fantasy going on that I’d occasionally catch whispers of: how this ‘Day of Reckoning’ was coming; this day is percolating where all the ‘enemies’ will be kneeling in the streets. You’re going to be saving bullets by hanging folks instead of shooting them and it was all meant to be taken literally and this song takes me back there because it was so very, very similar to the sentiment expressed in these lyrics. Grisly, dude.
The song closes with the lines, “There’s power in the blood of the Lamb.” It really stresses the inherent violence of this religion but also the paradox of the necessity of innocence with the need to literally bleed it in order to be cleansed. Yin and Yang/Cain and Abel. Man, the brochures make Christianity seem like they just want to give Tetanus shots to kids in Tanzania or something but it just doesn’t seem all that innocuous when you deep-dive into the fine-print, you know?
Wilson: Yeah. Just to tie it back to myself, I’d been joking around with one of the members of my other band John Frum, talking about how I kind of wanted to make our debut, [A Stirring in the Noos] really psychedelic. And now I’ve been thinking about, like… how do we kind of flip that idea on its head? How do we take an actual leap going forward?
Cynic’s Focus record has been an inspiration in the sense of like, (and I don’t write the lyrics for John Frum and I’m not sure what the vocalist would have to say about this idea) but instead of making a death metal record, I kind of want to make a ‘birth metal’ record because—at least from the point of view of the literature that I’ve been reading and digesting—it seems like it’s not the dying that’s the tricky part, it’s being reborn and having to do everything all over again. Going through the pain of birth and this endless life-cycle without ever escaping that flaming wheel of disease, demise and resurgence. Does that make any sense? Because I almost feel like Cynic created the first ‘birth metal’ record and I’d really like to expand on that.
FH: Wow. I don’t know if that tag’s gonna catch on though; it’s maybe too heavy. Also, a flaming wheel is literally an uroboric form… just to tie things back.
Wilson: Yeah, well I’m really just riffing on the concept. Like, Focus was one of the first death metal records I ever heard that wasn’t constantly talking about death in the same way that everything else was. It’s more of a confrontation with the process of death. Most people don’t actually address that phase of life or that there may be life after death. Instead, they just zero in on the moment of death and the gore, or the fear of death or else they’re just obsessing over the concept of dying. Focus was death metal that was talking about death from a completely different point of view.
FH: I know what you mean. Like we’re finally hearing the statements of a public defender instead of just the prosecutor. We frequently describe death as a door and Jesus has described himself as a door. Essentially, we’re talking about portals allowing us passage into other states of consciousness and it’s not that different—when you break that down—to a portal leading away from this physical, corporeal body into the next phase. But 16 Horsepower’s flavor of Christianity.. Calvinism is a very pin-holed viewpoint of a Christian -much less a human- experience. It’s a double bind really because it’s basically saying only a few people are going to be saved and they’ve already been pre-selected. And amongst those, they can still fuck up, you know? Those preordained still have to make the exact right choices. And then on top of that, (and here is that double-bind I mentioned,) there’s no free-will in Calvinism; it’s all predestined! So you’re ‘chosen’ but you can still break the contract, (even unintentionally) and yet, (may I remind you) there’s no free-will so you must follow this preordained path even if that means that you forfeit your salvation in the process and… man, I don’t get it. It makes zero sense to me. I’m sure there are plenty of books written on the subject that could enlighten me. David Eugene Edwards was apparently writing from that standpoint, and it seems like a very, very difficult place to be in. Almost unnavigable.
Also, I feel like there’s a lot of vicarious living in these lyrics; he’s always singing to this ‘girl.’ That’s his audience. ‘I seen you walkin’ and your white hips sway/ O girl I will have you no more.’ The ‘girl’ keeps popping up in these songs. There are loads of allusions to temptation. I think it’s kind of fascinating. And again, it seems like a very difficult way to live.
Wilson: Or is it autobiographical?
FH: Huh. I don’t know. What do you think?
Wilson: Well, it’s hard to say because… Look, I don’t think that the guy’s a saint; I’m not saying that. Maybe by my standards the guy’s pretty much a saint, but like, I know he likes his whiskey.
FH: Does he drink? Because the Church of the Nazarene doesn’t allow you to but he does make that reference, “come to my porch/I got whiskey.” I was intrigued by that.
Wilson: I’m pretty sure. A friend of mine plays in his band… I think he keeps whiskey on the rider. I’m definitely not trying to call him out or anything. You know, Stryper recently posted a photo where they were smoking cigars and they were utterly crucified; it’s just so fucking pathetic. So—without further elaboration but for the sake of conversation—I don’t think the guy’s a total purist. Maybe it’s a bit of self-flagellating rhetoric. You know, like, ‘I know I’m a sinner,’ point of view. And then too, maybe when he wrote Sackcloth and Ashes he was a bit more dogmatic and 20 years on in the business that wagon-wheel started to wobble a bit.
FH: That’s a good point. We’re talking about who David Eugene Edwards is and balancing that against a record that’s been out since what, 1996? He was describing Sackcloth and Ashes on the documentary, and he says at one point that he views the debut as a very selfish, very self-centered album and he feels like the following albums were much more inclusive, (partially because at that point he’d become a father and his life had changed radically but also by just allowing other band members to actually contribute material.) So, you know, we’re judging him against an album that he would say is sort of the black sheep of the discography.
FH: You’ve wanted to cover “Strong Man” for a long time. I think that’s a really interesting proposition. How would you approach It? What would you change?
Wilson: I probably wouldn’t change it all that much. I think I’d just make it into something more of a slower, metal dirge. I mean, the piece is so simple that I don’t know that changing it would really do all that much. You know, maybe the ‘quote/unquote’ country rhythm at the end where it kind of picks up…maybe I’d alter that and give it more of an Azusa-like double bass part. I think David (Husvik) of Azusa and Extol has a really tasteful way of using double bass where it doesn’t sound pummeling so much as it just sounds driving, you know? It’s not like some kind of an athletic, Olympic sport blast-beat kind of thing so much as it’s just an expression of a given song within that moment; it’s just a natural conclusion. But otherwise, I wouldn’t do much to it. I mean, I can’t even imagine “Strong Man” with death metal vocals! I’d basically take it the way it is. … I don’t know, I just feel like it could go even darker, deeper and even more evil, (and I find that song to be pretty dark and evil already.) I see similar potential in something like Slayer’s “Spill the Blood.” For whatever reason I find “Spill the Blood” to be one of the most haunting metal songs ever written. Tom Araya’s basically just narrating; it’s just this kind of monotone recitation, (he sounds almost hypnotized.) I can imagine that kind of delivery for “Strong Man.” Less preachy but more hypnotic.
FH: That makes total sense. I was very curious—especially the first time I listened to it knowing that you’d mentioned that song was something that you really wanted to try your hand at. I was trying to reconcile my idea of what you might do knowing what you have done. Do you remember when Tori Amos did that cover of “Raining Blood”?
Wilson: I do.
FH: Man! I was so intrigued and then so fucking let down.
Wilson: Really? I loved it! I mean, I’m not gonna say that I think it’s better. I don’t even necessarily think I’d ever listen to it again, but I loved the bravery of it. I enjoyed the fact she went there. It’s not necessarily a good cover but I appreciate that she did it and I liked that it was her. Tori Amos kind of taps into this similar duality in that she’s kind of saying, ‘Hey, I’m a choir girl but I’m also upstairs masturbating in church.’ You know?
Wilson: You know what I mean?
FH: Sorry. God… I was just trying to picture the church I grew up attending and wondering where exactly in it I’d go to bang one out.
Wilson: Well, I think that she would talk about hiding in the choir loft, masturbating. So I think that her owning that character, like, ‘Hey, I’m a sinner,’ and then covering “Raining Blood,” …I thought it was an interesting juxtaposition.
FH: No, I did, too! I came at it as a Tori Amos fan. I absolutely stand by those first three records; I think they’re magnificent. I didn’t really care for anything else after that but whatever, it’s her career; she should take it wherever she likes, right? So I was excited that she was going to reinterpret a Slayer track. Where I felt let down is that she didn’t really break “Raining Blood” down compositionally or reinterpret it into her own style or anything, really. She just seemed to lay her elbows on the piano keys, mumble the lyrics and call it a day. That’s what bummed me out. I was really invested in seeing how she would interpret those harmonic phrases.
Wilson: Yeah, I can see that. It was a little bit of a cop out; I agree with you. It’s a bit sticky but I think that you kind of have to see it as a performance-art piece. I mean, we know she shreds. We know she’s a great songwriter… No, it won’t go down in the history of great covers but I do remember hearing it and thinking, ‘well that was unexpected!’ Now, what would be even crazier would be if Slayer covered Tori Amos, (but god knows that that will never happen.)
FH: Well, especially not now. You know, “Raining Blood” and “Strong Man” have a kind of correlative quality, (conceptually, I mean.) You could weave in some of Slayer’s lyrics, (“awaiting the hour of reprisal/your time slips away”) into “Strong Man.” I don’t think that David Eugene Edwards would take issue with much of that imagery which is kind of funny, right? I wouldn’t mind seeing 16 Horsepower cover “Raining Blood” and just redirect those lyrics a touch more directly towards Old Testament mores.
Wilson: Well, they haven’t done Slayer but 16 Horsepower have done some interesting covers. They covered Joy Division for example. They have good taste. For instance, (it’s not a cover,) but have you checked out the “Black Soul Choir” video?
FH: I haven’t watched the video but I know they worked with The Brothers Quay for that one. I used to be a massive Brothers Quay fan.
Wilson: It’s not that it’s an amazing video but the fact that 16 Horsepower went to The Brothers Quay to execute their artistic vision just says, ‘alright, you have good taste. You’re dialed in. You’re tying together things that I’m already into.’ You know, I suspect that if Cynic’s Focus album cover was stupid or shoddy looking, I probably wouldn’t be into it. In the same way, Sackcloth N’ Ashes cover art is pretty bold and it dovetails well with the lyrics and the imagery. Something like them using The Brothers Quay was another indicator of where their heads were at. It got me paying even closer attention.
FH: Nice. So, after all these years, what would be your elevator pitch for Sackcloth N’ Ashes to the cautiously intrigued and how do you relate to it now?
Wilson: I think it’s just an authentic, modern country record. Rebel country. In a sense, this record was able to get me to relate to country music. I think it’s also a purely American record; like everything about it. If this record had come out from some outfit in, say, Germany I’d insist that they were faking it. But this record isn’t fake. There’s this honesty about it, (even if it is the black sheep of their catalog, as you suggested.)
I guess my elevator pitch is that it’s the most metal record I know of—beloved by me and so many of my metal friends—that’s not a metal record. It is, (in some senses) heavier and darker than most metal records but couldn’t be any less metal in terms of its instrumentation. There’s not a second of distorted guitar on the thing and I don’t think it gets any higher than say 120BPMs. Maybe some of it’s a bit hokey in that ‘yeehaw country’ way but maybe it needs that release because so much of it’s incredibly bleak. It’s one of those records that just got me. It found me in the right time and place and it hooked me.
As we talked about—growing up with a theologically Roman Catholic stained point of view- the lyrics spoke to me. They went into those familiar places but didn’t shy away from putting a really negative spin on it. I’ll say it again: contrasted with a death metal record, it’s almost worse and is probably even more evil and bloodstained. It’s less of a fantasy. Like, I seriously doubt that Cannibal Corpse really believes in what they’re talking about and I’ve never really thought that Suffocation was about to go murder anybody but David Eugene Edwards… I genuinely think that that dude could go there.
FH: And do you think that that’s a quality that makes Sackcloth N’ Ashes attractive to you in a way that a more banal Christian record with a very similar message but, (let’s say) more confectioner’s sugar sprinkled on top to disguise its awful message is not?
Wilson: Yeah. And it’s also helpful to know something about his upbringing. For example, the Extol dudes grew up Pentecostal in the most Christian nation on the planet outside of maybe America. Pretty much everyone in Norway is Christian. And especially coming from where
they’re coming from and playing extreme metal… Extol were all but crucified for doing it. They really suffered for their art! Whereas, over here we were like, ‘these guys play metal and—whatever—they happen to be Christian,’ over there they were Christian and had the audacity to play metal and ‘how could they!’ you know? So with 16 Horsepower and David coming from where he’s coming from and singing what he’s singing… to me it’s not as much of a leap. But I think from his perspective it’s a serious leap. Cynic too! Coming out of the Florida death metal scene it was an act of real bravery to not just be another cookie cut-out. That’s the sort of thing that catches my attention. Such honesty and fucking courage.
Okay, I don’t want to entirely lose sight of the initial objective that triggered this exploration. My first and foremost aim was to nudge a well-deserved spotlight directly onto Azusa—a band that invariably spikes my adrenaline, my dopamine (hell, maybe my estrogen?) well beyond beneficial levels. But now that it’s time for ‘last call’ it’s only fair to admit the obvious: I face-planted/ate shit/under-achieved n’ over-aggrieved in this particular respect. The guest of honor received precious little attention at their own soiree. The obvious diagnosis is that I simply had too much fun shooting all that shite with Liam to herd the conversation towards its stated goal. Rather, I allowed the breeze to carry the proverbial confetti where it may, (despite the fact that the actual party lay upwind.) So yeah, I’ll admit to feeling a touch hoisted by my own pseudo-journalistic petard while also being immensely grateful to have been part of a back-and-forth with a fascinating musician the kind of which you won’t find captured in any other rag, mag, periodical or otherwise. It’s certainly pointless to cry about the piece’s shortcomings now—that milk’s long been spilled and sponged up. So fuck it; I’m the sole yeoman of this weird-ass column and it’d be truly wicked not to rejoice in the weird-ass fruit that it produces. I had a wonderful time, thank you. As for yourself, I hope you’ve had a fine time as well and I implore you to check out Azusa post haste if’n you haven’t done so already. C’mon; don’t be a schmuck. It’ll do you good.
We’ll lock up the shop for good following a valedictory conversation with Paul Masvidal but for now, I’ll let Liam lead us out of this here prayer circle with a final benediction:
“I won’t go so far as to say that I’ve had a spiritual awakening but between years of psychedelic experiences, lots of ego death, The Dillinger Escape Plan having a bus accident… just all of these close calls and even, (for lack of a better word,) mystical experiences I’ve come to a certain peak in my life to look down on everything from and all of it man…it just all looks different right now. That’s a good thing. And sure, I can still be an asshole sometimes, but I’ve ultimately come to the conclusion that I’m happiest and I feel most connected to my Dharma when I’m at service; when I’m giving to other people—whether that’s simply parenting my kid or just serving God in whatever way that comes out. I just don’t think I’ve ever been this happy and content.”
“I guess I am trying to get the point across that all of us are in need of salvation; that we are dead in our spirits and minds and need the grace that has been offered -no matter how good we think we are.” —David Eugene Edwards
‘The genius embedded in theological hegemony is that even though those living beneath its glass dome can choose to reject the theology itself whole-cloth, they must allow that theological device to set the terms of that rejection. In doing so, the individual is poised to sacrifice some part of themselves. They must announce who they are by stepping back into the specter of what they are not. And since that specter is everywhere, the individual is always in danger of being engulfed by it. We broker for our identity with an entity we either foreswear or disbelieve in entirely. It’s a very neat trick.’ —Forrest Pitts (correspondence with a friend)