In #adhoclifeadvice, we ask artists we love to answer questions from you, our readers. This time around, Brooklyn via-Long Island songwriter Jeff Rosenstock
, formerly of Bomb the Music Industry!, waxes philosophical about perfectionism and juggling musical influences. Jeff Rosenstock plays Warsaw on April 19 and April 20
with Bad Moves and Martha – tickets
for the first night are still available.
stripped-down, and those limitations can
lead to cool creative stuff.
There’s a million ways to approach
songwriting, and everyone does it in their
own way. I feel like as long as you’re
making the stuff you want to make,
you’re on the right track.
Taylor Mulitz, guitarist and vocalist of DC post-punk group Flasher, likes a challenge. Whether it’s building a darkroom in his parents’ basement or stretching his time between music, school, a day job, and freelance design, his hands are consistently full. AdHoc was lucky enough to catch a moment with the former Priests bassist to talk about this issue’s cover, an abstract piece that grew out of working on the art for an upcoming Flasher release. You can catch Flasher at AdHoc’s unofficial SxSW Showcase in Austin, Texas on March 14.
AdHoc: What got you into design?
Taylor Mulitz: It started out in high school. Mostly because I didn’t want to take a science class anymore, I did double AP Art. I was really into trying to figure out how to make band t-shirts, so I would watch a bunch of YouTube tutorials. I tried to make a really crappy darkroom in the bathroom in my basement, and I stained my parents’ floors. My dad got really upset. So I started designing to make my own t-shirts, and then I went to art school after I graduated high school.
Where did you go?
First I went to Parsons, in New York, and I did two years there. I ended up transferring to MICA, in Baltimore, because I was just too broke to live in New York City. I did a year there, and then I dropped out because I was too busy doing Priests stuff and was getting terrible grades and it became a waste of money and time. So I have three years of graphic design undergrad, but no degree to show for it.
Your style is very angular, reminiscent of tattoo flash, and there are also some TV static elements to your work. What inspires you?
I definitely like bold graphic design. A lot of heavy-handed typography is what I’m into. I definitely was into illustrating more flash kind of stuff, but I’ve leaned away from that in the past few years. A lot of what I’ve been working on recently is collage-based, a lot of halftones, that static kind of thing. The stuff I’ve been designing is being printed by silkscreen, so that kind of shapes the decisions I make. I’ve been looking at a lot of paintings recently and drawing inspiration from that. Right now, I’m into Paul Klee, David Hockney, Jacob Lawrence, Ellsworth Kelly, Stuart Davis, and Madelon Vriesendorp.
You were in Priests. You’re in Flasher. How do you juggle all that with your day job and your freelance design work?
Well, I’m no longer in Priests, so I’ve just been focusing on Flasher since August. It just became a thing where it was hard to do two full-time bands. Flasher has some music coming out soon. Getting ready to release anything new is always a lot, and I’ve been working on the art for that, too; I think I spent a month and a half on it. The AdHoc cover actually came from an illustrative experiment that I did that ended up not working for the release. I made a bunch of stuff that I was into [while trying to figure the art out], so it was cool to have the opportunity to use some of it.
A lot has changed for Lindsey Jordan since she played her first show in 2015, assembling an ad hoc crew to open for Priests and Sheer Mag at a festival. Snail Mail’s
jangly, introspective sound—layered with the Ellicot City, Maryland native’s carefully constructed lyrics—belies the band’s spontaneous origins. In a little under three years, they’ve released an EP on Priest’s Sister Polygon
label, toured the United States, and signed to a major indie—all while Lindsey was finishing up high school. Ahead of Snail Mail’s debut studio album, which is due out on Matador
this summer, she spoke to us about being a feminist musician, balancing schoolwork with touring, and growing up.
What inspired you to start playing music?
I don't know—it's just a hobby. I started playing guitar when I was five, and I didn't start writing songs until I was 12 or 13. I recorded an EP on Apple Garageband a really long time ago that's not on the internet anymore, and I formed a live band to play this one show—just for fun. Then we recorded the EP, Habit
, because we had some friends that were willing to help us with it. Originally, our goal was to do these five or six songs, or whatever. I mean, I never really intended for it to go well, you know?
What's the scene like in Baltimore? Was there any particular show or band or space that was really inspiring to you?
I hung out a lot at Black Cat in DC. I saw a lot of punk bands there, and I feel like that world was pretty encouraging as far as starting your own band. I don't know about now, but there are a lot of really great record stores in Baltimore. Celebrated Summer in Hampden is where I discovered a lot of the punk music I really love now.
DC is a really big place for punk. It's a really big creative hub, with a lot of DIY spaces, and there are a lot of young people doing awesome stuff. I have some friends who play in punk bands in Baltimore. I think [Baltimore has] got a culture of people who work really hard and think outside the box.
AdHoc Issue 22 is here! Download a PDF of the zine at this link, and look out for physical copies both at our shows and at record stores, bookstores, coffee shops, and community centers throughout the city. If you happen to live outside of New York, you may order a copy as well.
In our latest issue, responding to a reader’s question, Priests vocalist Katie Alice Greer
brings up “the difference between reality-you and dream-you,” and suggests that in order to realize your potential, it’s important to parse those separate identities. Navigating that separation can be tough for artists, as the other musicians featured in these pages—Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos
and LVL UP
’s Nick Corbo—have found out. Both write personal music for bands with cult followings, and have noticed that the more they tour and record, the more those identities—as human and as musician—start to merge. Corbo says that his collaboration with his bandmates is “entwined with my life and who I am.” Kline wonders, “Am I my job?” Yet the social aspect of music—from collaborating to engaging with fans—has helped both artists navigate that distinction. As Kline puts it, “Frankie Cosmos is so much bigger than me and who I am.” Sometimes figuring out who you are who you are requires letting others in.
AdHoc Issue 22's contributors:
has produced two decades worth of records as The Microphones and Mount Eerie that span a wide spectrum, from studio heavy atmospheric landscaping to simple, raw songs. He made the cover for this issue.
is a Queens-based illustrator, cartoonist, and host of a monthly reading series for cartoonists, Panels to the People. She made the illustrations for this issue.
AdHoc Issue 21 is here! Download a PDF of the zine at this link, and look out for physical copies both at our shows and at record stores, bookstores, coffee shops, and community centers throughout the city. If you happen to live outside of New York, you may order a copy as well.
People often praise performers when they “lock into a groove”—when the music they are producing sounds as though it is being made effortlessly, under the artist’s full control. But the folks we spoke to for this issue—Chino Amobi and Laetitia Sadier—actively avoid that sensation of mastery. Amobi—a producer and co-founder of the NON collective—says the aim of his recent album, Paradiso, was to “challenge” himself and the listener alike. Sadier—a founding member of Stereolab—expresses being just as surprised by her recent work with the Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble as her audiences probably were. Both create music that’s fluid, open, and collaborative—work that can make for tough listening experience at first, but that encourages new modes of thinking while pushing the art form—and the community around it — forward.
AdHoc Issue 21's contributors:
Brandon Locher is an artist and musician who lives and works in New York. He made this issue’s cover.
Jesse Jerome Jenkins, V (b. 1984) is an American recording artist living and working in Corpus Christi, Texas. The singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer is a member of the romance rock band Pure X and releases music on his own as Jesse; he made a visual poem for this issue.
Whitney Wei is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work has appeared in Mixmag, The Guardian, and the nightlife zine Club Etiquette, which will soon be available for purchase soon at MoMA PS1’s ARTBOOK. She made the illustrations for this issue.
AdHoc Issue 20 is here! Download a PDF of the zine at this link, and look out for physical copies both at our shows and at record stores, bookstores, coffee shops, and community centers throughout the city. If you happen to live outside of New York, you may order a copy as well.
In AdHoc Issue 20, we get to know three musicians who go out of their way to build community whenever they’re not making great music. Bryan Funck, who tours constantly as the vocalist of Louisiana metal band Thou, runs the website NOLA DIY, which collects information on local shows, bands, venues, and promoters, along with resources for bands just starting out. Moor Mother and Eartheater, in conversation, explain the importance of creating music in the face of systemic obstacles like class inequality and gender-based discrimination—and helping others do the same through collaboration and education. Which is to say, for each of these three, being a musician is certainly about releasing plenty of forward-thinking music—but it’s also about using that platform to help others have their voices heard.
AdHoc Issue 20's contributors:
Alexandra Drewchin is a Queens-based musician who records under the Eartheater name. She conversed with Camae Ayewa of Moor Mother for this issue.
Chris Stewart makes and performs synthy anthems under the moniker Black Marble. He composed and shot the cover for this issue.
Samuel Nigrosh is a Chicago-based illustrator who publishes books and comix under the name Trash City. He made the illustrations for this issue.
This article appears in AdHoc Issue 15, a collaboration with The Talkhouse. You can pick up a copy at AdHoc shows around NYC. If you'd like to order a copy, you can do so here for a physical edition; you can download the PDF here.
* * *
Bill Nace is something of an enigma. A fantastic guitarist, improviser, and visual artist, the Western Massachusetts and Los Angeles-based musician seems to have pulled off the rarest of hat tricks: achieving global notoriety in and beyond his field while making some of the most difficult and challenging music around. The guy doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, but he’s spent the last decade touring basements and festivals around the globe, helming a prolific record label called Open Mouth Records, making countless collages and drawings, and collaborating with some of the biggest heads in the free music game, including Yoko Ono, Chris Corsano, Paul Flaherty, Thurston Moore, and, more recently, his Body/Head accomplice Kim Gordon. And he’s done it all without gimmicks, shameless self-promotion, or really any shtick whatsoever.
No Waves, the new Body/Head LP, is out this November on Matador Records. The record was edited out of a live set they played at Big Ears Festival in Tennessee a few years ago; each of the album’s three tracks is longer than the last, with the LP culminating in the epic, 23-minute “Abstract/Actress.” Throughout, we hear their guitars running, jumping, dodging, and weaving around each other; the musicians stay on an uncomfortable texture just a little longer than you’d like, and then flip the whole thing on its head. According to Bill, he and Kim never talk about what they’re going to play before a set; they just go out and rip. And that’s the secret of Bill's enigma: the guy just RIPS. All the time. In his damn sleep. He’s really nice, too.
We spoke on the phone the other day about improvisation, running an independent label, and the challenges and unforeseen upsides of bringing free and improvised music to a mainstream audience. (Note: Nace also made the art for Issue 15's cover, pictured below.)
AdHoc: When did you start playing free music?
Bill Nace: I was in some bands in high school and in my early twenties that were a bit more of a traditional band configuration: two guitars, bass, drums. I played bass in all of those. But those bands had an element of improvisation involved, whether it was a process used to generate ideas for parts for songs or [meant] to stand on its own. So the transition was pretty natural. I had always gravitated toward those parts anyway, so it was just kind of focusing more on that aspect of it. I’d say that I was around 23, 24, when I really started to work explicitly with improvising and trying to figure out what that was for me.