It is safe to say that the noise-core scene would be almost non-existent if it wasn’t for Eric Wood. Since 1990, his projects have helped define power-violence and noise.
The same could be said for ex-Detestation and Question vocalist Saira Huff who besides running a very cool fashion label, has been a part of the DIY Punk scenes and remains a name well-known to those involved.
Now, the two are teaming up for the latest version of Bastard Noise. We talked to Eric Wood on how this partnership happened and his views on the ever-changing noise/punk scenes.
Eric, you stated you wanted to discuss noise. You’ve got over 29 years creating it, so what keeps you interested in sticking with this one specific genre?
Eric Wood: Early on I always found what most people would consider “non-musical” elements or sounds to be of high intrigue. To me, sound is what gave “birth” to early music to begin with. This is why my reverence is so deep towards it.
Soon after Charred Remains aka Man Is The Bastard was formed, Barnes and myself bonded over many creative loves and interests. His early ROARAFC Caveman Electronics captivated my interest so much both visually and audio wise, I knew after recording the Sum of The Men… The Brutality Continues 12″ LP that there needed to an additional road forged just for the experimental side of M.I.T.B. which is how Bastard Nosie was conceived. I knew right away when Barnes joined Man Is The Bastard and brought his handmade amplifiers, guitars and (especially) vacuum tube Caveman Electronics into the The Headquarters (our rehearsal space in the old lemon packing house in Claremont, California) that we had a VERY UNIQUE asset to our line-up and that the possibilities could be endless!
So less than one year after Charred Remains started, (in June of 1990), Bastard Noise was given its’ name and Barnes and I began early recordings which would become our first recorded vinyl release: the split 7″ with Finland’s Unseen Nosie Death which I put out by myself. It came in three colors: black vinyl with thick C2S paper fold over covers, clear vinyl with light grey and black paper fold over covers and yellow vinyl with gold and black paper fold over covers.
That was the beginning of a long, productive “experimental road” for Barnes and shortly thereafter Nelson and myself for a number of years before the line-up changed and went through numerous metamorphosis year by year.
I think the artists that kept me really interested in staying with this road of expression were Nurse With Wound, David Vorhaus’ White Nosie, Controlled Bleeding, NASA recordings, Maybe Mental, early P.I.L., Merzbow, Tangerine Dream, Klause Shultz, Z’ev, Pain Jerk, Hermit, Imperial Japan, early S.P.K., early Hunting Lodge, Government Alpha, C.C.C.C., Incapcitants, Urban Sax, Cranioclast, and ultimately working with Barnes and W.T. Nelson consistently for five years straight!
I learned SO MUCH from each of them it is NOT to be underestimated! I appreciate anyone who is willing to take chances and go ‘the long haul’! I am blessed to know them both closely in a creative sense and to have strong friendships with each of them as well to this day. Of course the amount of influential artists goes on and on and on…
What is it about Saira that made you sure she was going to be the right fit for Bastard Noise? You have a history of working with incredible musicians, so I am excited to hear this.
Eric Wood: I think with Saira, it was just her history, her down home personality combined here amazing lyrical writings and live charisma that attracted me to wanting to see if she would interested. I always loved her past catalog with her various bands (especially Detestation and Question) and luckily she was up for ‘the journey’!
Will this be recorded material or live performance only?
Eric Wood: Well we’ve recorded the Human Horror Hymns 12″ sessions (Deep Six Records) which is a split LP with Actuary and we have the newest No Human Mercy 7″ EP also with Anthony Saunders from New York on electronics as well.
This three piece has already played in NYC, Rhode Island and Ithaca, New York. Saira and I just did what I believe to be our best set ever (right before this goddamn pandemic hit) in Oakland, California for The Birhtday Continues… annual show (on January 11th, 2020) and it is going to be released on Orb Tapes from Pennsylvania later this year on compact disc and cassette formats. It sound unbelievable to say the least! It was recorded at First Church of the Buzzard and thanks to Kent Cates (owner of F.C.O.T.B.) it was the greatest show ever for us so far!
What will we see in terms of the instruments for this project? Are you sticking with two bass guitars? Noise machines? No drummers?
Eric Wood: This is an all electronics and vocal unit whether it is myself alone or with other personnel. The use of custom vacuum tube oscillators, solid state oscillators, the “irish spring” and vocals/lyrics that recognize the endless guilt this shit species should feel for destroying this sacred earth is what Bastard Noise is about.
No conventional instruments will ever be used in Bastard Noise! Animal Liberation and Earth First! values live here inside The Skull!
What do you think of the “noise” scene today? Is there anyone out there who has emerged in the past 10 years that you consider yourselves a fan of?
Eric Wood: The “noise scene” is a multi-faced enigma but for the most part I am very happy people are doing something to express themselves. There is tons of ‘filler’ in every genre but I am grateful to have the values I personally have for making sure every Bastard Noise recording is of the highest quality and caliber possible.
There are some really good souls out there that have helped Bastard Noise throughout the years so I cannot complain. I would there is always room for improvement. The worst thing to me would be the over saturation of bandcamp only artists. Due to technology, people/artists are lazier than ever to make high quality physical releases. It’s a crying shame. Still there are amazing people throughout the world that do ‘get it’.
You were around to experience and be a part of true DIY music scene. Of course, technology was minimal and social media non-existent. Discuss your thoughts on what the DIY scenes are like today. Do you think your previous bands would have existed if they were around now?
Eric Wood: There was definitely a more soulful ‘earthiness’ in the pre-computer, pre-SHITERNET days for sure. Hand writing correspondence was REAL WORK! You had to be into it. You had to be patient and you had to be trustful. I believe that (speaking only for myself) that it’s hard to say if my pld bands would have existed the same way in these times as they actually existed when they did. Better times were NO BANDCAMP times. Actually buying records and just ENJOYING THEM is where it’s at!
Holding a cover or jacket and reading and memorizing the lyrics, band members and what instrument each member played etc. To me, that was the magic of the times. STILL THERE ARE GREAT, FUN, SICK AS FUCK ARTISTS TODAY THAT DESERVE SOME ATTENTION!! Once again, INK ON PAPER CORRESPONDENCE IS KING!
When we talk noise, so much of it is now made on the computer. Do you ever go that route? Does that seem like the lazy way to do things in your opinion?
Eric Wood: I personally never would go that route ever. There are some very established artists that do use computers to express their vision that I do respect but it is 100% not for me. I find it totally sterile and boring.
You are a scene veteran. What advice do you have for musicians in underground punk these days? What would you say have been your biggest lessons from recording, touring and dealing with others?
Eric Wood: I would say to make every recording you release of the highest quality possible. Work with people/labels you trust. Do your homework concerning those relationships and prospects. Appreciate the early days and how fewer “tools” there were to do the same amount (if not more) work to attain the same goals being accomplished today. Take chances creatively speaking and never be discouraged by the human waste of the SHITERNET sounding off from their vermin filled holes of worthlessness. Work hard, be passionate and excel in your craft. NEVER be afraid to ask questions. REWARD YOU FIRST and it will more than likely reward others too. Stay true to yourself.
So, when can we expect to hear this project?
Eric Wood: These are the next Bastard Noise related releases will be:
- Bastard Noise / X-eyes split 7″ (self released)
- Merzbow / Bastard Noise double 12″ collaboration LP set (Relapse Records)
- Like Weeds / Bastard Noise split CD/cassette (Orb Tapes)
- The Birthdays Continue… January 11th, 2020 Live CD/cassette release (Orb Tapes)
- Full length cassette release (Deathbed Tapes)