Mad jags

Pub date April 23, 2008
SectionMusicSectionSonic Reducer


SONIC REDUCER "That was just a major experience that I’ll never forget and I never, ever want to have again."

So sayeth 60 Watt Kid’s Kevin Litrow of the mind-render that occurred shortly after he moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles in 2006. "I was contacted — or I might have contacted them. I’m not really sure." He goes on to tell me of being visited one night by a "tornado" of energy that swirled fiercely through his room and knocked him "out of tune," while talking to him in his head. After his guest finally departed, Litrow says he was limping on one side. Finding no corollary for his experience among other UFO reports — "it physically didn’t look like the typically oval-shaped-face kids," he says — he discovered that, nonetheless, the experience "physically and mentally opened some doors." Can the glitch-garnished, knocked-askew psych of Litrow’s band 60 Watt Kid — captured on their intriguing self-titled Absolutely Kosher debut — be partially credited to a brain-tweaking twister from another dimension?

Alien visitations, madness, rehab, and Libya — last week I was lost on a vapor trail, looking down from a star called Planet Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, and waltzing to a psychogenic fugue only I could hear. But now I’m found. I’m told it’s in the water. One moment you’re staring at the cover of Us Weekly, wondering how onetime pedophile’s-wet-dream Britney Spears came to be transmogrified into Our Lady of Mental Health Issues. The next you’re waking up, kicked to the curb with surgical staples where your kidney once was. The price of gas is high, but tripping — and sometimes falling — through the mind’s eye, gets you even higher. April gusts have blown in a slew of artists, spinning yarns of spirits and out-of-body travels. They lived through this. You will, too.

PROVEN GILTY Free Gold (We Are Free) is the name of Indian Jewelry’s forthcoming recorded game, so surely IJ honcho Tex Kerschen knows how to get baby some bullion. "You’ve got to go and roll the rich," says the Houston experimentalist. "You gotta catch ’em leaving restaurants and saying goodnight to their chauffeurs. Wealth liberation has come to rest in our minds as the answer, since we personally slave for oil barons." Kerschen knows: he says he spent the last year working in a refinery while Indian Jewelry took time off to regroup and record. So Free Gold is simply wishful thinking? "You get pummeled with wealth here in Houston," he explains. "They’re building continuously — literally, gilded fortresses. I’ve had to hang terrible art for terrible people. We decided we’d gild the lily ourselves."

REHABIT IT "It’s nice that people are into it," Kimya Dawson says sweetly about the chart-topping Juno soundtrack that hurled her into the consciousness of the mainstream — or at least that of National Public Radio listeners. "But I’m not really the kind of person who keeps track or cares about numbers and sales. I make music, and it’s just kind of what I have to do. It’s what I’d be doing regardless of who was listening." The Olympia, Wash., artist started crafting tunes as part of Moldy Peaches in 1994, and she’s still writing — albeit with less introspection since the birth of her daughter Panda (she just completed a children’s album). Songwriting has been an outright necessity since she drank herself into a coma and entered rehab more than nine years ago.

"I popped out of rehab, and I was depressed and on medication, and I didn’t know how to function on this planet, and I picked up a guitar, and it made me feel better," Dawson explains. The first Moldy Peaches show happened two weeks after she got out. "It’s always been mutual therapy for me and the people listening to my stuff. I always figured if I stopped doing it I might go crazy."

LIBYA LIBERATION How can a stellar Oakland combo like Heavenly States top their last heroic act as the first US rock band to play in Libya after the lifting of a 30-year travel ban? To start, they spent about a year working on a film about the experience, relying on puppet reenactments and animation, before they woke up and asked themselves, why aren’t we making music? After selling the rights to their Libya adventures (producer Jawal Nga is writing a script tentatively titled Rock the Casbah), the band has come up with their most eclectic and confident recordings to date, Delayer (Rebel Group). The group’s next act? "We got asked to play in Iran at this music festival," vocalist-guitarist Ted Nesseth tells me. "But Genevieve [Gagon] couldn’t sing in public. Then someone e-mailed to say her friend was a journalist living in a North Korean village filled with musicians, so we have to figure out a way to go there and record. There’s absolutely no way any of that crap is going to happen. I think we have a lot of touring to do supporting this album, and then we want to make another one."

SPIRITED "You know," announces Triclops! guitarist Christian Beaulieu, apropos of neither the group’s new CD, Out of Africa (Alternative Tentacles) nor what vocalist John Geek describes as their "bung load of shows," "Sonny [Kay] from GSL recently called me the ghost of Dimebag Darrell."

"It’s really kind of impossible because you were born way before he died," I venture.

"Well, I told my friend I was the ghost of Steve Vai," Beaulieu continues, "and he said, ‘Holy crap! That’s the best news I’ve heard all day: Steve Vai’s dead!’ I’m just trying to figure out how to put a handle on my Telecaster." *

INDIAN JEWELRY Thurs/24, 9:30 p.m., $8. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF.

KIMYA DAWSON Fri/25, 8 p.m., $20. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, SF.

TRICLOPS! Fri/25, 6 p.m., free. Amoeba Music, 1855 Haight, SF.

HEAVENLY STATES Sat/26, 10 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF.

60 WATT KID Sat/26, 9 p.m., $25. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF.