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Guest BROWNer


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Guest BROWNer

a useless thread on a useless band..

i'm listening to 'what about me?'...

....the 'guitarist' used to be my

family doctor, and greg curnoe and murray favro,

two of my art hero's also 'play' in the 'band'.

i doubt anyone on here even knows who

they are, or care for that matter, but let me just say they are worth

searching out if these photos and readables tweak you're

adventurous side..even if you hate improv that knows and tries

to be horrible...


the 'band' ^^^


here's some lyrics(think of a bunch of surly 60 some odd

year old artists, doctors, and librarians making a total nonsense

noise in the back of an art gallery, and the 'singer' is shouting):

"what about me!? so you think the economies bad! what about me!?

so you flip your deck(?)! whatta i want?! i want my fair share!

me first! me first! me me me! (unintelligible)! so you think the cn

tower is the tallest free standing structure?!! what about me!!?

so you think there are seven wonders of the world?!! what about me!!?

the sun never sets on the british empire!!!! it sets on me!!!!

lego my ego! i want to teach the world to sing my song! my song!!"




there's a film documentary on them too('the long rise to nowhere'), called 'what about me' by zev asher.


this makes chuckle, from the national post:


---Robert Fulford's column about the Nihilist Spasm Band


(The National Post, September 12, 2000)


The first book about journalism I ever read explained the meaning of two key words, "wonderful" and "legendary,"

as used by feature writers and press agents. Both definitions involve longevity and repetition. If, for instance, an old

lady walks down to the post office to get her mail at 11 one morning, that is unremarkable. But if she does the same

thing at the same time every day for 30 years, then she automatically qualifies as "wonderful." If a man makes a

chalk drawing on a busy sidewalk, it's not worth mentioning. But if the same person makes the same drawing every

Saturday morning for 30 years, then he can be -- in fact, by all the laws of journalism he must be -- described as



The author of that long-ago book on newspaper writing was taking a sardonic view of our profession, but he was

right. That was reaffirmed for me this week when I read a press release applying the term "legendary" to the Nihilist

Spasm Band, a group of half a dozen amateur performers in London, Ont. Every Monday night, at the Forest City

Gallery, they collectively make sounds. These sounds (produced with kazoos, drums, homemade guitars, ball

bearings in a pot, etc.) have no discernible value or meaning; by comparison, an often baffling composer like John

Cage is as clear as Handel, and Arnold Schoenberg as sweet as Richard Rodgers. These performances are music

with keys, chords, tunes and rhythm omitted. They are, however, loud. Several members of the band wear ear plugs

while "playing." One of them has nevertheless grown quite deaf and is often mistakenly thought to be surly because

he frequently doesn't answer when spoken to.


The significant point is that the Nihilist Spasm Band has now been engaging in this absolutely pointless activity for

more than 35 years. They have worked hard for their status. They were young when they started, and are now

pensionable or nearly so, and they play more or less as they did at the beginning. It seems they have not improved at

all -- but then, if they did get better, how could anyone tell? In any case, longevity and repetition have done their

work: The band is now officially designated "legendary."


The legend stretches beyond Canada. Certain performers in Japan, sometimes called "noise artists," report with

gratitude that their art has been influenced by the Canadians. The Nihilist Spasm Band has been issued on CD in

Japan as well as in North America, and in 1996 performed in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. It is said that a mint copy of

the band's first record, called No Record, brought $900 from a Japanese collector. They have also made public

noises in New York at the Knitting Factory, a venue that is itself moving steadily toward legendary status.


Around the time they were starting, Greg Curnoe (1936-1992) described them to me. He was a leading artist of his

generation and he was helping found an unusual art movement. In a period when most artists focused on the

standards of metropolitan centres, and Toronto artists eagerly imitated the New York masters, Curnoe and his

friends in London proudly declared themselves regionalists. Curnoe, John Boyle and Jack Chambers (1931-1978) used

art to explore and exalt their own part of the world. Curnoe played in the band until his death. Two of the artists

who emerged alongside him, Boyle and Murray Favro, are still part of it.


Curnoe was also founding the Nihilist Party, though he was never much of a nihilist. The term describes someone

who believes in nothing, and he believed in a lot -- Canadian independence, his own talent, Canadian history, his

family and surroundings, the Canadian tradition in art, etc. The Nietzschean idea of nihilism ("the absolute

repudiation of worth, purpose, desirability") was a long way from his view of the world. But the term appealed to

him, and he started or helped start not only the band and the party but also the annual Nihilist Picnic. He gave me

the Nihilist Party's official lapel button, a large NO. I wore it for a day or so, eliciting a few puzzled glances. Had I

only worn it every day for 35 years, I might have become ... well, no use idly dreaming about the past.


The Toronto International Film Festival includes a curious feature-length documentary, What About Me: The Rise

of the Nihilist Spasm Band, subsidized by the good sports at the Ontario Arts Council. The director is Zev Asher, a

filmmaker who has been admiring the band since the 1970s and himself has played in similar bands like Roughage,

Bustmonsters and Flying Testicle. In quality, Asher's film runs parallel with the band's, which could be intentional:

He seems to believe that when you deal with a chaotic and annoying subject, the best thing to do is make a chaotic

and annoying film. He includes many excerpts from performances, a lot of footage about the trip to New York and

excerpts from the band's appearance on a Japanese TV variety show, where everyone seems to be giggling (not an

uncommon situation on Japanese television). He also includes interviews with members of the band, not one of

whom has anything interesting to say for himself, at least on this film. Viewers of What About Me who wonder

what the joke is will be dismayed to discover there isn't one. Nor is there a trace of irony.


When they played Chicago, a critic at the Tribune called them "unpretentious," which recalled what Churchill said

when someone remarked that Clement Attlee, the Labour prime minister, was modest: "He has a lot to be modest

about." Even so, they are said now to be a significant part of the international noise movement, which they celebrate

annually in London at their No Music Festival.


Some of the more ambitious devotees of the avant-garde will want to see What About Me and hear the band in

person or on CD. Others, searching for an equivalent but more participatory form of cultural expression, will go

into their kitchens and bang some pans together. If they like doing that, and remember to do it every week for 30

years, it's absolutely certain that they, too, will one day be legendary.---



here's an interview dubbed "A bad joke carried too far.."







sinking to the bottom

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Guest fr8lover

just look at that motley crew!


ill look into them, though.

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Guest blood as ink

i have no clue why but that last photo reminds me of poison idea...i'll see if i can find the picture i'm thinking of.

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Guest BROWNer
Originally posted by BROWNer

sinking to the bottom



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you know i've actually heard of these guys. i used to have a roomate who was "an experimental musician." haha. he liked these guys i guess and the reason why i remember them was 1. the name and 2. they had an artsy "pamphlet" thing that they put out that he had with interesting photos, rants and drawings. i recognize their photos. do you know what i'm speaking?

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Guest BROWNer
Originally posted by TEARZ

interesting photos, rants and drawings. i recognize their photos. do you know what i'm speaking?


unfortunately no. they used to play every week at this gallery a few blocks away

from my place a few years back.....we used to go every thursday night to see this

improv guy named eric stach play...a clarinetist.............it was sort of a really relaxed

chill evening when a bunch of my good friends, girl and guy, would come out

and go eat chips and stuff, have a couple beers, and talk about music with these old geezers who were unbelievably cool.....anyhow, nihilist used to play in the same room on monday nights, and for some reason we never ever went....even though we were fully into them and aware of them.....not sure why..whenever i think about it i kick myself........those pamphlets were nice??? must've been...curnoe and favro are awesome.

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Guest BROWNer

do you remember hearing them tearz???

i wonder what they are like right now with all the

attack on america shit......

they're pretty anti-american....especially curnoe...

he was super pro-canada and a bigtime 'regionalist'..

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i remember hearing them... this was a few years back and i haven't heard anything since. their stuff, like most "experimental" was "over my head"? huh i dunno. it's a shame that i haven't really found my gateway into experimental stuff. i know that there's some cool stuff out there and i find it intellectually stimulating, but it does nothing for my "Dionysian" side... so i always just pass it over for the sea of other stuff that i know i like and haven't explored.

the pamphlets were actually really nice. they must have been responsible for making them...haha. humorous and very anti-american. maybe it came with a record? i don't know.

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