Archive for January, 2011
Wow. Today marks the 30th anniversary for my band, the Interdimensional Vortex League. I didn’t realize the connection to 1/11/11 until now. I suppose this means that the Mothman is behind us from now on. This is good, because the music business can be tough…
We are planning on keeping up with the times, however, by releasing our music and videos on iTunes. Hey, if the Beatles can do it, why not us?
Below is a band bio put together by our old friend, music historian Ben Camp, of Taos Public Radio. Hopefully I will be able to get a couple of new songs posted somewhere in the next few days. It’s always nice to have something to click on…
In the meantime, check out the reviews on Amazon for our Powerdump CD. They are pretty funny:
Interestingly, there are Mothy connections here. First off, Harriet showed up in my life, after an 11 year absence, the same month that we started the band. I will have to check with her on the exact date but, at that time, she informed me that my deceased father had come through at a seance she had attended; it was for an article on spiritualism she was writing for the Ohio State Lantern. The message had to do with a “Protector.”
Also, the description below mentions an infamous incident in Austin that may relate to Mothman in the sense that the arrival of a demon in a creek might also be a “call-out” to the Garuda, who is known to “subdue planetary spirits.” It could be that I wasn’t harmed by the entity that assaulted Daniel Johnston and Johnny Martinez because I was immunized – already “Heyoka” – due to my childhood Mothman experiences.
It also makes me wonder if protective Mothy frequencies have found their way into our music. One of the reviewers on Amazon (identity unknown to us at Team Vortex), said exactly this same thing when he describes how the music protects you from all sorts of psychic, “alien” attack. Certainly Johnston’s “eyeball bat” character, found throughout his art, reflects such an idea. In general, it appears that Mothman aids the lives of those who see him. The Native Americans say that those who see the Thunderbird will become healers and artists, and will be rewarded materially in this life.
The Interdimensional Vortex League (sometimes called I.V. League for short) is an experimental band made up primarily of visual artists, whose goal is to make visually evocative music in an atmosphere completely free of commercial constraints. The band’s output patiently averages about one release every five years. As such, their musical reach has steadily matured and broadened to the point that they now cover almost every genre of music, from the purely experimental to something almost resembling pop. Using an array of musicians from around the world, the band has made forays into grundge, punk, country, jazz, rap, funk, electronic, ambient, sound collage, spoken word, folk, acoustic, trance, and rave. These are multi-talented folks, folks…
The Interdimensional Vortex League records exclusively on location at various “power spots” around the globe, such as mounds, caverns, canyons, and paranormal sighting spots; acoustically unique manmade spaces are also fair game. Some of their more recent “Mothman” songs were recorded entirely on laptop, without the use of external devices. Their sound can range from the extremely polished to the extremely raw. At times, both qualities may appear in the same song, creating a binaural experience that is hard to forget. According to the band’s literature, embedded “mind control” tones elevate the experience to the “Tantric level.” However, this necessitates care because, apparently, “unrestrained kundalini” experiences have been known to spontaneously occur in some listeners, resulting in the occasional “blown pineal gland.”
Before you laugh, it IS true that in published reviews from the 1990s, in magazines like The Austin Chronicle, Option, Factsheet Five, and Sound Choice, listening to Interdimensional Vortex League is consistently described as being both soothing and shocking at the same time – akin to “being in a concentration camp where the voice of Mr. Rogers comes over the loudspeakers.” At the height of its popularity in the late 1990s, the band was labeled “America’s most underground band” by Lisbon’s hip rock magazine, Blitz.
I.V. League was first birthed in January 1981, at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, when two students, Andy Colvin (now known for his films, books, and art on Mothman) and N. Mindrum (elusive arts magnate), began doing a series of field recordings on a handheld Radio Shack cassette tape recorder. The two began adding textured guitar and synthesizer sounds, creating mysterious aural vignettes. With the addition of drummer Matt Baughn (current creative director at design behemoth Deskey) and keyboardist Dave Scott (owner and founder of the Cincinnati Gallery of Conceptual Art), the band was set to make an impact on the local scene. Originally the troupe performed longer, more abstract installation pieces, sometimes playing for hours at a time in museum settings. Soon thereafter, the group went mobile, often playing from the back of a van at prearranged times and locations. The band was way ahead of its time in this regard, as “flashmobbing” wasn’t to come into fashion for another three decades.
The I.V. League’s southern division was formed in the early to mid-1980s when Colvin became a fixture on the Austin, TX music scene. His newly created side project, Ed Hall, became known for its raucous shows, often involving Colvin pulling stunts like singing through dead animal carcasses or tying himself to a doghouse by the neck. More than once, Colvin was forced to physically defend himself against enraged right-wing skinheads, who disliked his political commentary. The band’s appearance in the film Slacker cemented its reputation as a legendary act. Ed Hall’s higher profile allowed Colvin to gain the assistance of several talented Austin artists in League projects, such as renowned Los Angeles painter Marc Trujillo (contributor to the El Mariachi soundtrack), Douglass Randel (founder of the shockingly outlandish Austin band, Queen Penis), actor/filmmaker Luke Savisky (Slacker), keyboardist Scott Van Horn (co-founder of Austin’s freakiest band, Hug), guitar king Gary Chester (co-founder of Ed Hall), mixmaster Nick Maffei (of the infamous Nick and Ed Show), projectionist/filmmaker Bill Daniel (Spectres of the Spectrum), celebrated “celebrity” photographer Bruce Dye, and several members of Squat Thrust, an Austin institution that is still playing “anti-establishment” gigs today.
In one of the most notorious I.V. League experiments, performed in the creek running through the U.T. Austin campus, the help of famous singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston was enlisted. Unfortunately, after the introduction of hallucinogenic substances from an outside source, Daniel found himself rambling in the middle of the creek, at the wrong hour, trying to drive out the demons aroused by the League’s acrobatic performance artist, Johnny Martinez (who had been practicing faux rituals in the creek, in conjunction with Colvin). This late-night exorcism scene was so intense that it found its way into the recent Sony film “The Devil and Daniel Johnston.” The events left Martinez visibly frightened. He was convinced that there really WAS an evil spirit in the creek, and quit the production; the upcoming weekend-long performance had to be aborted. All was not lost, however, as Johnston’s career skyrocketed shortly afterwards… Although Colvin continued making recordings in the creek and elsewhere, he decided to leave Austin in the late 1980s, after disagreements over the musical direction of Ed Hall and the League’s southern branch arose.
Despite these temporary setbacks, Mindrum and Colvin continued to push the envelope on the West Coast in the 1990s. In Seattle, Colvin brought additional Leaguers into the fold, such as the multi-talented brother-sister guitar duo from New Mexico, Andrea and Aaron Chang, world-musician John Schwartz (master of several instruments), East Coast drumming guru Dave Elvin, and Seattle rap savant D.J. Novocaine. Moving beyond the grundgy sound of the Austin days, the band began making spacey, atmospheric music with looping tracks, samples, and a danceable beat, while still retaining the thought-provoking lyrics for which they had become known.
To mark their 30th anniversary in Jan. 2011, the Interdimensional Vortex League began work on iTunes releases of several old and new favorites, accompanied by videos from several phases of their career. People may not have heard of this band before, but rest assured, that is all about to change. As they say in the biz, “When you put in the work, you eventually get noticed.” Already, if one privately asks “alternative music” insiders which bands have stretched the boundaries the most, the name Interdimensional Vortex League inevitably comes up. Try it. I did – that is why I decided to write this bio.