Between Burroughs and Vonnegut, there’s an abyss gazing into me: an interview with The Everyday Film
14 marzo 2014 § Lascia un commento
You all can imagine how it feels to do your first interview to be published with an elusive and mysterious entity like Drew Elliot Steinman, 44 year old sole member of The Everyday Film, a band with no introduction needed, because no introduction is possible if not through his albums or blog rumours. In spite of the latter ones, making no-one expect something good, Drew proved to be a very helpful interlocutor, interested, kind and exquisite. He chose DeReviùer to unveil the mystery once and for all, and I will be grateful to him for my whole life.
What happened between April 2008, when The Everyday Film was born, and December 2009, when your first album was released?
In April of 2008 I came up with the name “The Everyday Film” and started work on my first album. I completed the album by December 2008 and could not decide on a name for the album. Tentative titles were, Let’s send sufferers and Beauty Sends Sufferers into Convulsions. Eventually I settled on the title, The House I Used to Turn Into. It took me one year (until December 2009) to get over the fear and embarrassment of putting out music like this. I didn’t know of anyone who had done this so I couldn’t justify or validate it in my mind. I felt uncomfortable, worthless, stupid, and inept. Eventually I got over the fear. The fear still comes back but I try to remember it’s invisible, tasteless, odorless, and colorless.
Why is your name The Everyday Film? What does that mean?
The name came from the fact that my life was the same monotonous misery everyday for so so so long! It was like I was watching the same boring film over and over (everyday).
Have you ever done concerts? Does somebody other than you know you are The Everyday Film and make tunes?
I have never performed live but I intend to as soon as possible. My family and friends know that I am The Everyday Film. Some aren’t so impressed though.
This is your first interview after six years of activity. You never spread news about yourself and seem allergic to the whole social networking universe, but now you decided to reveal yourself. Why? Is it just a case or is it your choice? I don’t think you live in a world of your own, nobody really does. But in your records, you give this impression. What inspires you?
The only reason I decided now to do an interview is because I thought it would be fun. I refused to do any interviews in the past is because I wanted people to be able to use their own imagination about who (or what) I am and form there own impressions about me and the music. With the internet there are no more “myths” in music. Part of being an art form is that you fell to this planet from outer space. Even if you are the average guy from next door… why tell anyone? Why ruin the illusion? If you want to learn about the guy next door go next door and meet him.
My inspiration is anyone in any art form (film, art, music) who can release something with no precedent behind it.
I am also inspired by Dreams: where your mind is temporarily unlocked from fear, embarrassment, morality, and common sense. Dreams give you a version of yourself you would not make on your own while conscience.
Your albums, putting it in very very very very simple terms, are full of suggestions without continuous progress, resampled on very minimal electronic beats and soundscapes. It’s impossible, at least for me, to find some musical influences. Or is it useless? If it isn’t, who influenced you more?
I can’t find any influences either.
Maybe I am influenced by my lack of ability and the little monsters in my head that interfere with a day job that makes me a good zombie.
Apparently a lot of my musical influences don’t show up in my work. I am moved by The Bar-kays, Rick James, George Clinton, Meat Loaf, Strafe, William Burroughs, Pankow (the Italian band with Alex Spalck), and Cybotron (the band from Detroit). Discovering Jandek changed my life. Prior to discovering Jandek I felt I had no talent and couldn’t emulate anyone. When I listened to Jandek I realized I could release anything I wanted and felt like my brain was validated. I also realized the fact that not sounding like anyone else was a good thing and a gift.
What’s your equipment? I like the way you get a lot of effect with what seem to be very limited means.
Arturia synthesizers, Korg Microkorg, and my mouth.
And what about the lyrics? Is there any (song)writer that inspired you? I’ve read some reviews saying they’re “twisted, paranoid, sick”, but I think you’ve got some sense of humor, akin to Beckett’s or Kafka’s, almost dispathic.
One song writer who inspired me wasn’t even a songwriter – Williams Burroughs. The “cut-up method” he used is excellent for people who don’t have talent but can recognize talent. I might not be able to create good lyrics but I can recognize good lyrics. I really enjoyed John Foxx’s (when he was with Ultravox!) lyrics but I couldn’t copy him he’s way too smart.
By the way, you remind me of a story about Kafka, who couldn’t keep himself from laughing out loud while reading some excerpts from The Trial to friends and relatives. What’s your ideal audience, instead? And what’s your real audience?
My ideal audience is the person completely alienated and losing touch with reality. Someone in a very dark place. Someone who is such an outcast that they do not fit in with the other outcasts… Someone who needs to know it’s OK to be mentally disfigured and disgusting. It’s ok if I can’t make my life work. Its ok to express myself even though I don’t fit into any catagory and have no talent. Then the revelation that it’s actually better I have no talent and that I don’t lick any category.
My real audience? Hmm. Probably people who listen to me as if they are visiting the zoo. “Hey, look at that cage. What a nice and scary creature. Hmm. Even though it has 42,000 teeth can I pet it? Will he bite me or kiss me or juggle my fingers?”
If I got it well, you’re from Houston, Texas. I know Texas is where many “freak out” acts were born: I think about the Sixties with the 13th Floor Elevators and the Red Crayola, and about the Nineties with Charalambides and Jandek, if you like. Then there’s you, hardly contextualizeable and so far away from guitars. What do you know about the musical scenes of your surroundings? Do you think there’s someone doing something similar to what you do? If there is, tell me now! [laughs]
I am actually from Voorhees, NJ. I moved to Houston in 1983 and moved back to Voorhees in 2010. I now reside in Medford, NJ. I know nothing about my local music scene here or in Philadelpia (the closest big city to me). I don’t get out much. I do not know of anyone doing what I do. If there is someone doing what I am doing please stop them. The world does not need too many ‘The Everyday Films’.
Speaking of “freak out”, there’s always someone who thinks that making this kind of music requires to take drugs (see Five Starcle Men). I do not agree, so let’s shut everyone up, once and for all, come on.
You are correct. I do not need drugs to be me or The Everyday Film but the listener might.
Everytime I took drugs with the intention of being creative I always wound up looking at pornography. Drugs always eventually ruined everything for me. I became hurtful, boring, glutonist, lustful, egotisical, delusional, grandiouos, crazy, wasteful, destructive, annoying, and unattractive but at times they felt good.
I read you were selling your first albums (at least your first four albums) on CD-R, through Assumed Makeup, your personal label. Now these four albums are on free download, courtesy of you, on a blog called Music For Maniacs. How did things and sales go?
I have never sold any CDs. Assumed Makeup is my own personal label. I never put the energy into selling CDs. I figured I wouldn’t make a substantial amount of money doing it myself. I would rather find someone else to do that.
Now you converted to MP3, so your last three releases were on sale on Amazon and iTunes. Why do you prefer Amazon and iTunes to, for example, Bandcamp, notoriously closer to the DIY universe? What has changed in your way to present your music? How are things going now? And why Festival Of Emotions and Goool EP are not available anymore?
I’ve heard of Bandcamp but I know nothing about it and have never been to the site. I put my music on Amazon and ITunes via Tunecore. I chose those sights so people would be able to purchase my albums and for the exposure. I would prefer for people to have the actual CD because each album is intended to be a concept listened to in it’s entirety, not broken up. I don’t like purchasing music on mp3 – the quality is inferior and it’s better to have a physical product so you can sit in your room listening to music with record covers all over the floor to look at and get that rush of creativity flowing through you.
In the beginning, you had a website, then it went offline for a long time, then it came back online with quite a cryptic message on it, mirroring your writing style, and a link to your last video. What’s behind this?
I would rather not comment about the website but I will comment on the video that is linked on the website.
The video for The Guess paralleled events occuring in my life at the time. Scary, because I didn’t realize this until the video was finished. As of now the photo album is unfilled.
Who makes the videos we see on YouTube? Are those photos from your archive, from your private life? Why are those videos like that? May there be any connection with the expression “The Everyday Film”?
I am currently the sole creator behind the videos for The Everyday Film. The photos in the video for Goool were given to me by a friend who moved into a house where the previous owners left most of their belongings. They left quite a lot of pictures. I asked him if I could have them to make my first music video. The Goool video and song is about emotional death. Something very good in my life was turning very bad. The brightest beautiful shining sun was turning into something so much darker than I could handle. For so long the pain was excruciating. Emotional pain and anxiety was making it hard to breathe at times. I was dealing with an emotional drug worse than anything I ever imagined. I am so glad that is over.
Who takes pictures for your covers? Especially the ones for Festival Of Emotions and New Skin Wine are very effective!
Thank you very much. I take the pictures/design all of my album covers. The cover picture on Festival of Emotions is an un-altered, non-photoshoped picture that was taken in Smithville, New Jersey. God put the tree near my path one day while walking through the forest. The tree was staring at me. Look at the album cover the tree is staring at you wanting something. Maybe something you can’t give. Also, if you turn the image sideways you can ruin the mystery.
Not only Endy is a recurring character in your albums, but I also see some tracks called Letter 1 through 4, in your first three albums: is there a link between them I can’t recognize? Or can we say your whole work has an internal conceptual continuity?
The recurring character Endy lives in the future and the past (never in the present). He is very confused and does not understand the world he lives in. The unconditional love he wants to give people around him is trampled on causing his real emotions to be hidden very far away. He grows older but his mind is still that of an innocent 5 year old. The “future” Endy knows his mistakes and pain will maybe always follow him so the only thing he can do is write letters to himself in the past hoping it will help the “Past” Endy to survive as he grows older. Unfortunately, the “future” Endy’s mind is very confused and damaged. So the letters he sends back to the past wind up being nothing of any use – just random information. As his mind deteriorates the letters eventually turn into very sad entertaining gibberish. Endy is always trying to find his sister. Her name is Clarity. Endy named himself. He named himself “Endy” because of his constant need to “end” himself because of his confusion, short attention span and the true love that is so elusive to him.
Letters 1-4 were intended to be printed on the lyric sheets of each album to be read over their corresponding instrumental tracks. Here are the original letters:
Letter 1: Sound the Alarmist
I am calling from many man lost land. We found your homework from grades 2-5. Almost all have been graded. When Mrs. McGuirk is done grading your homework you may die (thank you and sorry).
I want to believe you but I also want to believe you are lying. I read your paper about the sink from 1985. I also read your report on the things that change you slowly. I liked the part about you feeding your brother to your sister.
All the water here turned to powder. You should see what we look like trying to wash our hands! I made a blanket out of my TV but its not very comfortable.
Have you pretended to be dead lately? I did. But, someone buried me. Can you come get me? You’ll find me at Mmm mmm help get me out of here which is located near your house.
Please return your TV to the convenience store and call me in the early 80s.
Eggie (It’s me! It’s Me!)
P.S. – Don’t worry I will contact you about your route and disguize via the subtitles in that Twelpe film.
Letter 2: The Nerve Shower In Between
Maybe I’m the practice version of ____? I’m finding more and more people to impress. I feel the need to tape everything. Yea, maybe it’s great that I’m shaking but its not a dance.
You are intentionally left blank.
I know this is not making much sense but some things can only be explained once they are over.
I was told I was good at taking a hint too far.
The things that hurt the most are the things that change you slowly.
PS – I was told your [sic] and that you need to tape it repeatedly
Letter 3: The Genius of Silence
I used to think about what you’d believe but that was pretty pointless. I’m communicating via a loose rope so disregard the crackling sound. I didn’t expect I was going to send you another letter so I didn’t rehearse anything:
…is asleep. Un-fort-u-nat-ly something has gone terribly wrong. I stepped over some invisible line that I could not see. I really need you to send help but I don’t know where I am. I was recording how fast my blood flows every morning, per your request, but it’s been harder since time is now passing much quicker.
Days are now lasting only minutes. Ever since I removed the necklace my thoughts have become so graphic.
Well I’m starting to figure things out. I think I know my age. I’m seven. Is that old?
I found the closet of children’s toys. But they started moving around on their own.
The gaps in my thoughts are getting thinner but I still know they are there. There still are great ways to think I’m a horrible one. Someday we will meet but does it matter.
A song with a guitar (LINE THRU)
Letter 4: It’s Dragging Me Thru My Body
Dear Mr. Big Pants:
My voice might crackle a bit since I had to used someone else’s intelligence to finish me off. I wanted to confess things that never happended but my body is the best version of the past. I dialed your phone number in 1993 and the phone is still ringing.
Everyone eventually lies…
Don’t worry, I’ve got ways to pretend I’m passing out. This is the same sound from 1974 but louder from space.
I have to go now as I hear the lunatics running up the stairs and my brother ran out of pornography earlier in the evening.
Believe it or not this was all planned.
PS – I’ll enter a plea once I see the footage.
We give every word we speak an emotional halo and a series of meanings your albums get rid of. An epistemologist, to explain himself, reduces everything to the letter; your records, besides a sense of paranoia, claustrophobia and high tension, give the impression of reducing every concept to its basic elements, going even further sometimes, so that a world creates itself, where everything struggles to have sense without success. Maybe you’ve been misunderstood, but what do you really want to communicate? Or are you trying to confirm that autism in music Stravinsky theorized and pointed to? Given the refinement of what we listen to on your records, what does your research point to?
What do I want to communicate? The authentic feeling of The Everyday Film at the time the music is released. The Everyday film is a version of me and it must be authentic and real. Real before money, real before I think about what you would like to hear, real to itself.
As I think it should always be, we can’t tell a “killer” from a “filler” in your records, the longest during 22 minutes. But I also see that long durations are going longer and the short going shorter. Some pieces are more accessible, more large-scale, if you know what I mean; some pieces are more hermetic and push me towards a comparison with haiku poetry. If this is bullshit, stop me, tell me your version of the facts and what’s behind this evolution.
Give me a few minutes to look up the word, “hermetic” and to find out what “Haiku poetry” is. Thanks.
My evolution happens naturally. I have no control over it. The albums form on their own. The truth is it’s just rock & roll man.
I can pay a lot of examples about musician and composer having a job outside of musical industry, so that they can work in total freedom, and some of them released real masterpieces. Vampire Rodents, Runhild Gammelsæter, Forrest Fang and Charles Ives come to mind. What about you?
I will work in total freedom even if I am dirt poor, which I am. I’ve spent my life performing horrible jobs that are outside of the music industry. I will do it no more. I am ready to die than be miserable. I have made no money from The Everyday Film —> yet. I have spent thousands of dollars promoting myself. I quit my day job last week. I have $75.00 dollars in my bank account and now my only job is The Everyday Film and emulating Jesus Christ.
I need a new member in The Everyday Film. Someone with technical ability. Someone kind, honest, passionate, and wants to change the world. I would like to create industrial-funk dance music. Think The Bar-kays meet (or eat) Nine Inch Nails = The (new) Everyday Film. If anyone is interested please contact me at 856-281-8395 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The world is waiting, why are you????
I also have three concept albums in the making with tons of horrible lyrics ready to go.
Until I get a new band member I plan on releasing a new album with no new material entitled, Career Suicide: the best of THE EVERYDAY FILM. Look for my dying body on the back cover.
I have 2 other concept albums that are currently shelved until I can get the resources to make them properly.
I, also, have poetry I would like to get published.
I have such sights to show you.
Thank you for this interview. Sorry for bothering you.
This has been very much fun for me. I hope this is a positive experience for you too.
You are not bothering me.
Today’s theme is a first preview and a good piece of news: a new The Everyday Film’s album called Bleed Over will be released this year. The piece is called The Drop Off and, according to Drew, unlike his other stuff, is very danceable. Enjoy.