Wednesday, November 18, 2009

JASON URICK: Avoid Cleaning or Jogging

Jason Urick lives at Floristree space, loves football, beer & Camels, used to perform as Moonstealingproject, and has had white hair since adolescence. He spearheaded festivals, a record shop, an underground venue (slash home), and participated in projects such as Spirit Stallion, a pastiche band comprised of a varying cast (including OXES' Mark Miller) whose often-hilarious performances poked fun at the music industry's more self-important side with Guitar Center pranks and PowerPoint presentations. Lately, his solo album Husbands has been garnering loads of positive attention, a split 7" with kindred Baltimorean Jason Willett appeared last week from Wildfire Wildfire and a trip to Europe is in the works. Jason is a lighting rod for Charm City's musical climate; his longevity in the scene and knack for storytelling makes him a griot of sorts, his charm and humor draws people to him, and his expansive taste and enthusiasm keep him thirsty for everything the music interworld has to offer.

What do you do? What are you doing the most lately?

I do what I do, and sometimes I forget I do it. I make music but have never been a "musician"... but I do it because I don't know how not to. I book shows at Floristree, but I'm trying to do that less. I used to do owning a record store, running the Once.Twice Festival, rooting for the Redskins, playing in Wzt Hearts and living in Chicago... but I no longer do those things for various reasons.

Lately I have been doing putting out my first solo record, trying to figure out how to a be a laptop performer without boring myself and paying spectators alike, rooting for the Ravens and not booking shows (sorry everyone who has been emailing me for shows).

Jason's new album Husbands, out now on Thrill Jockey Records

How long have you done these things? How have the things changed?
I've been making music for about 14 years now... I started late. I tried to learn guitar in 8th grade... errrr... I tried and succeeded in learning how to play the intro to Crazy Train on guitar in 8th grade and assumed that's all there was for me to do on that instrument. Wait, I actually also had a short lived "band" in 6th grade called Arcangel. We had one friend with a guitar, and I made a "bass" out of a shoe box and 3 rubber bands with a Fisher Price tape machine mic inside to amplify it. Our drummer had buckets... we "practiced" twice. We did have a cool logo that we drew on our binders. Our influences were mainly Faith No More, D.A.D., Anthrax and Bang Tango. If I knew then what I know now I would've named our band the Shitty Tinklers, because thats how my memory of it sounds.
I didn't tackle music again until after High School when I decided that I could easily be that dude in Pavement that played a snare drum and made weird sounds on a synth. I got a Roland Juno 6 for my birthday and made my guitar whiz friend Jeff Kmieciak and co-worker Zach Mason start a band with me. We found a drummer via the City Paper, his name was Ferdinand and he was a 30 year-old Phillipino guy. He was really rad and live in the basement of his parents home amongst like 8,000 CDs. We called ourselves Fashionable Kitsch and turned down both shows we were ever offered. We practiced for about a year, but I quit when we started playing songs the same way more than once. I wouldn't be in a band again until Wzt Hearts which worked because we didn't even like to practice at all, so there was no way we would have to play the same song twice.

I don't like to practice... I should've listed that in the first question as something I don't do.

Why do you do these things? No, really, why? How does it make you feel? What's it like when you are unable to do these things?
I do these things because I wake up thinking about doing these things often, and other times I go to bed thinking of doing these things. I don't know why. Some people wake up thinking that that they need to clean their room or jog. If you know me well I rarely think of these things when I wake or go to bed. Therefore I make music instead of cleaning. Maybe I do it to avoid cleaning or jogging... I never really thought of that until just now.

It sucks when I am unable to do these things because that means I am possibly cleaning or working or jogging...wait, that's not true, I never jog. These things I like less than making music. It feels good to make music when I'm making it because it relaxes me,... it feels natural when it's going well... I don't think of anything else at that moment.

Jason Willett (left) & Jason Urick, photo by Devon Daimler

When was That Moment in your life that told you you would become what you are? What happened?

Is this a nature/nurture question? It feels like a mind trap... I'm not sure when that moment was or rather I am possibly unable to gather all the little moments that added up to make me what I am.... I would have to start early with something that happened in childhood like getting beat up in 2nd grade or seeing a Devo video on MTV, but I'm not sure if they mattered or if they actually happened. Though for sure at some point in early High School I realized that I liked music more than I liked most things but it was more like I always knew it but didn't know I knew it.... if that makes sense. I think maybe once I realized that Arcangel wasn't going to ever match the success of Guns N' Roses I put away this knowledge but once I saw Fugazi at Ft. Reno and they were walking around drinking lemonade with the crowd before and after the show, I guess I realized a world where the boundaries were more blurred.

I always imagined my role would be as a record store owner, or running a label or promoter. And it was for a while... it wasn't until Wzt Hearts were I felt more comfortable with the idea that I'd rather be making the music above all else.

How has your life changed to accommodate That Moment's effect on you?
It's hard to say because I don't know any other way. My life before what we have maybe pinpointed as the general time period that The Moment may have happened was most likely was spent mostly going to Junior High School, and watching Fresh Prince Of Bel Air while eating pizza bagels... now I watch thrift store VHS tapes (last one was Gladiator) while eating homemade pizza.

How has your work affected your life in return?
Well, I think it changed in mostly positive ways. I feel like the sense of community that you get from being involved with music has taught me a lot. I'm not sure what lead to what, but I feel like I need less to be happy than people I see that don't have that sort of community available to them. I dunno....

What do you think of the future?
I've been angry at the future ever since it failed to live up to the promise of hover boards by the year 2000. I'm also angry at the future for living up to Orwell's 1984 a little too much.

What does David Lee Roth mean to you?
A superior 1984 in some ways to the previously mentioned one.
Do you have anything you'd like to ask me?
Remember when Floristree dressed up as the Lexie Mountain Boys? That was cool.
I remember this as the best thing that happened to me that I wasn't there for. Same as being born! That was cool and about time too. Do you like how I just coined the word "interworld"?

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