88.5 KGNU, Westword and Twist & Shout Present
Wed Mar 20
Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
$18.00 - $20.00
This event is all ages
Ages 15+ without a parent
All tickets are non-exchangeable and non-refundable following purchase
Listed price does not include tax and service charge
Price is the same online, over the phone, or in the Box Office.
All tickets are General Admission (GA) with limited seating available. If you require accessible seating or other accommodations, please purchase your GA tickets and reach out to Lee@z2ent.com to help us make your visit as enjoyable as possible.https://www.foxtheatre.com/event/1782840/
Guattari State Psychiatric Hospital
California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Attending Staff: Dr. Tony Moniz
Patient Name: Cass McCombs
Date of intake: 1/1/19
Age: Unknown, but presents simultaneously as geriatric and childlike
Sex: Almost certainly mostly male
Race: Almost certainly mostly Caucasian
Initial observations: Subject was found by Stockton PD ranting at passers-by on the corner of Channel and Sutter, opposite the bus station. Mostly unintelligible, but what was discerned had to do with apocalyptic visions and messianic delusions. In other words, the usual. Upon arrival at ward, 100mg of Haldol was administered (McCombs was heard to remark, “Ah, that’s the stuff”) which was followed by an immediate relaxation in affect. Entrance evaluation followed.
McCombs claims to be a musician of some popular renown. Quick searches on both Bing and Lycos failed to offer corroboration. McCombs further claims to have a new record, which he says is his ninth, being released “soon.” He says the title is Tip of the Sphere. In this doctor’s estimation, this conversion of the most obvious sphere-image (the planet Earth) into a weapon—a “spear”—argues for an aggressive streak in McCombs and supports strenuous intervention on our part.
A greasy, tattered notebook was found among McCombs’s effects upon initial police search. Seems his fantasy of having a record extends to a series of lyrics for songs with titles such as “Absentee,” “Real Life,” and “Prayer For Another Day.” I must admit, the writing does show some proficiency. Thematic concerns include identity, reincarnation, criminality, Armageddon, and suicide. McCombs will be isolated from the ward while we ascertain whether he intends self-harm.
Update, 1/14/19: Administered a standard Jungian word-association test to McCombs at 10AM after his daily doses of Prolixin, Prozac, Lithium, Thorazine, Albuterol, Insulin, and Penicillin. Results reflect a cooperative personality rather than solipsistic tendencies, which are generally required to be a musician (or any type of artist). Selected responses from McCombs: Head > Crown Long > Tall To Ask > To Give White > Light Child > Learning To Marry > Devotion To Pray > Meditate Foolish > Jester Family > Faith
The replies “crown” and “jester” imply an obsession with medieval history, perhaps reflected in McCombs’s courtly demeanor, while his reactions of “faith,” “devotion,” and “learning” are touchingly maudlin w/r/t the idea of domesticity— intriguing to see such associations from a shiftless vagabond. His musician phantasy is revealed in the responses “tall” to the prompt “long” (my rendition of “Long Tall Sally” was a highlight of the karaoke performances at last year’s staff holiday party, you’ll remember) and in the response “light” to the prompt “white,” which reminds me of a similarly deluded patient from decades ago (note to self: look up files on a Lewis—or was it Larry?—Reed from my early sixties Long Island state hospital days).
Update, 1/25/19: Well, this is fascinating. A small hard drive was discovered secreted in McCombs’s cheek last night by a midnight-shift orderly. It contains audio files for an 11-song album, with lyrics matching those from McCombs’s notebook. I’m no Nat Hentoff, but I’d say the music is soothing and expertly played, with a soupçon of righteous anger and soulful searching. I wonder where McCombs stole these files. Anyway, he is becoming increasingly agitated and insistent that “his” album is released today. He attempted to bite my hand just now as I wrote these notes. I’m referring him to the surgical ward immediately for a frontal lobotomy. Let’s see how he likes that.
[n.b.: attached to this report is a manifesto of sorts that was discovered in McComb’s cell room, scrawled on toilet paper in what I am assuming is soy sauce purloined from Chinese night in the cafeteria. Its tone of casual grandiosity is quite intriguing. But I’m quite uncertain what he’s on about.
“This is You, Forever,” he says. “It’s about accepting that you are responsible for you, that you’re in charge of your actions. Everything you do affects others and yourself, so, no matter what you choose to do, be there and learn from it.”
It’s a mantra that powers self-starter Owens, a producer and sound engineer by trade who entered the scene with his debut Sam Evian full-length, Premium, in the fall of 2016. The notion takes on a dual meaning that is echoed across You,Forever.
“There’s a ton of romance on the record,” he says. “Maybe it’s all romance.”
You, Forever is Owens’s first foray into a more soul-baring sensibility and places the artist directly in the sightlines and heartlines of his listeners. The album (as well as 2017’s “Need You,” a collaboration with the multi-hyphenate musician Chris Cohen) was written on the heels of his experience touring Premium with his band and was recorded across the latter half of last year. The tours—which included opening shows for bands like Big Thief, Whitney, Teenage Fanclub, Luna, Nick Hakim and Lucius—taught him much about feel and interaction. Further fueled by a desire to escape from the glow of screens and to embrace a sense of limitation, he quickly developed a new set of instrumental songs written for a band rather than just himself and recorded them on a Tascam four-track cassette recorder in his parents’ house in North Carolina.
“Just like most people, my recording studio day job had me staring at a computer eight hours a day,” he says. “I just needed to get away from the glowing rectangle. The only way to do that was to work on tape. The four-track is so limiting; you’re forced to get only the bones of the song down. You can’t do any overdubs, so it was fun to work on that with the experience of the live band behind me. And something about playing my family’s instruments in the garage where I grew up spurred a set of songs that became the new record.”
Inspired by these limiting techniques, Owens borrowed an eight-track reel-to-reel tape recorder from a friend, rented a house in upstate New York, and took his band – Brian Betancourt (bass), Austin Vaughn (drums), Adam Brisbin (guitar), and Hannah Cohen (backup vocals) – there to record the new album in July of 2017. Focusing on instrumental grooves and the vibe he had achieved on the original four-track recordings, Owens found the process so enlightening he decided to up the ante yet again by banning tuning pedals from the house.
“Tuning pedals make it so easy to sound good together, so when you eliminate them it takes everything back to the ’60s, which is when all my favorite records were born,” he says. “It makes everything more questionable, weird, and unruly in a really simple way.”
Dreamy album opener “IDGAF” explores the notion of embracing one’s passions and pursuing one’s goals no matter the impositions in their path. On one hand a subtle stand against the current political climate and on another a call to be responsible, Owens calls it a romantic song that embodies his act of self-mixing his record: “I had to put myself aside and let the music happen.”
“Health Machine” is a crunchy, slow-burning but deliberate stomper glowing with warm electric guitar, saxophone wailing, and Owens’s reverb-laden lyrics that he says detail an abstract version of how he relates to his own physical form. “It’s about the unattainable health that I would like to imagine for myself on tour. The line ‘We slither out on a Tuesday feeling tired and hopeless’ is such a hilarious picture: four people in a minivan slithering out of Atlanta, Georgia, stopping at a CVS and getting a bunch of Zicam. Health is your job if you’re touring as a musician, although it’s a job I don’t do so well.”
“Country” is a fleet, nimble driving song written after Owens and his girlfriend (Hannah Cohen, who also sings throughout the album) took a cross-country road trip and encountered what they perceived to be a dust storm in rural Nevada. “For a hundred miles, we didn’t see a person or even a tree, then all of a sudden this giant dust cloud appeared which turned out to be ten cowboys on horses lassoing cows. It was the most real thing I’ve ever seen.” In fact, Owens wrote every song on the album with the act of driving-while-listening in mind, and says many of the lyrics came together following that life-changing road trip—the only time he has ever driven across America without anyone waiting on him to show up for a soundcheck. But despite the allure of the transient life, his heart belongs to one place.
“The record is about romance, and about my love for living in New York and trying to separate myself from any idea I had previously of living in New York,” he says. “I’ve kind of designed my own world there.”
Whether behind the wheel in the dust bowls of America, navigating the bustle of his adopted home, playing festival stages with rock legends, or getting back to basics in his parents’ garage, no matter where Sam Evian goes, there he is…forever.
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