Interview with Jason Crumer

Jason Crumer has been around for years.  Killing it.  Seriously.  Rocking out with Facedowninshit.  Creating an impressively diverse collaboration with Roxann Spikula of Relay For Death.  Harsh walls of noise.  Emotional, more subtle moods.  Disturbing sounds made with who-knows-what.  And, more recently, heavy, HEAVY electronics with new project, Reverse Baptism.

I had never given this guy's releases the time of day until a conversation with a friend went something like this:

Friend:  You like Jason Crumer, right?
Me:  Never heard him.
Friend:  DUDE...WHAT...THE...FUCK???

While I didn't connect as much as most with Crumer's "Walk With Me," his albums, "Ottoman Black," "Personal Hell," "What Is Love," and 2011's "High Stakes" (sitting firmly in our Top 10 of 2011) have me asking myself the same question.

You primarily perform under your own name, or with Reverse Baptism.  But, you originally started out playing in "facedowninshit," right?  How did you progress from playing slow, heavy music to the wildly experimental nature of your noise releases of the past several years?  And, is facedowninshit still active?

I started doing noise in Aluminum Noise in 1998, the same year facedowninshit started.  Facedowninshit broke up in, I think, 2006, and Aluminum Noise ended (and "Jason Crumer" began) in 2002.  Before that, I had only been in punk bands.  They progressed separately, going from fast punk to rock-oriented work.  From experimental crap with AN to, hopefully, better composition and overall approach with the solo stuff.  Reverse Baptism started last year; not so serious.

Why bother with experimental music/sound?  Why not just join/start another band?  What do you get from one that you don't from the other?

Experimental music is intellectually more rewarding; rock music is physically more rewarding.  It depends on what you need, ya know?  A real band, every member demands and gets input.  My electronic music doesn't reflect on anyone else.  Sometimes it's fine to have complete control, but it's good to have someone to tell you that your idea is stupid, try again.

I couldn't have made "Walk With Me" or "Ottoman Black" with a band, and couldn't have made "NPON" on my own.  Sometimes you get so far up your own ass that it's impossible to make good solo work.  That's probably where I'm at right now.  I need to find a drummer.  "Waylon Riffs" lives up in Philly, and we're probably going to get something going again.  It's situational.

Your releases under your own name seem to vary from harsher styled ever-changing walls of noise to quieter soundscapes that, on the surface, seem ambient, but the dark undercurrent doesn't really allow for relaxation, so much.  What inspires your work?

Eh, everything.  I don't know what inspires my work.  That's 15 years of stuff inspired by 15 years of stuff.  In super general, I like to make the extremes of any song, edge of hearing ambient and loud noises, and then the rest of the track is the segue between them.  That's about as specific as I can be to that.

Reverse Baptism is one of your newer projects.  Will you give a little background into how RB came together?

I met the other members of Reverse Baptism about a year ago, right when I moved to Baltimore.  We got drunk, what can I say?

"Street Business" is fucking insane!  The sound is intense, and the lyrics are just grimy.hahaha  There is one track where the lyrics were not printed in the insert.  Why?

They were omitted because we couldn't reproduce them for the lyric sheet, and didn't want to have sections labeled, "angry drunken garble."  I didn't write any of the lyrics with exception of the part I sing in "Big Bitch Cathy."  So, I'm not the one to ask about that.  I do support whatever my friends feel they need to express, regardless of how it makes people I don't know feel.

What are some of the strangest things that have happened when you've toured?

It's been years since I've toured, and memories are a little hazy.  Scotty Irving (Clang Quartet) politely asking, "Who shouldn't I talk to today?" on a Clang/American Band/Black Meat tour when everyone was in a bad mood oddly sticks with me.

What are some bands and noise artists that blow your mind?

Eddy Arnold, Joe Colley/Crawl Unit, Due Process, MagWheels, AC/DC, USA Baby, Clang Quartet, Sickness, Masonna, George Jones, Merzbow, ZZ Top, Loop, Jim Reeves, The Rolling Stones, Dilloway, Kool G Rap, Cold Electric Fire, Billy Joe Shaver, Judas Priest, Sixes and Mahler.

You have moved around a good bit: California, North Carolina, Oregon, Baltimore...  Why the move to such far away states?  Change in cultural climate?  Music?

I'm from Southern Illinois, a place people like me can only move away from.  Moving is a part of my life from early on.

Currently, you reside in Baltimore, MD.  I have noticed two main scenes for noise/sound/experimental music there.  There's the fairly straight academic style of the Baltmore Electronic Music Group/Collective, and the more art/party style emanating from The Bank/Tarantula Hill/America et al.  How much have you immersed yourself in the local scene, and how do you feel about it compared to other places where you've lived?

Good things about Baltimore are an Ethiopian Restaurant, great public library system, decent diner, job that doesn't make me want to kill myself and a cool market all within a few minutes of my house.  Bad things about Baltimore are mostly my fault, so I'm not complaining.  I gave up on groups and scenes a few years ago, and don't care to impress or meet or even talk to many people right now.  My social life consists of my roommate and a couple of her friends, and people from other towns coming up/down for a visit.  I'm still in touch with most people from everywhere I've lived; some more than others.

Haven't really had a lot in common with people I've met, so far, in Baltimore.  That's not a moral distinction or judgement but an aesthetic and, possibly, cultural preference.  I want to keep my relations one-on-one and make it through the life kissing as little ass as possible.

What was the "Old Country Buffet Incident?"

Some friends and I got matching Mormon Bible Salesmen hair cuts and dye jobs at a Fantastic Sam's in Jackson, MI and went to the neighboring Old Country Buffet.  Beyond perversion.

What do you have planned for this year, release-wise?

Jason Crumer "Let There Be Crumer" CD and cassette on Second Layer.

Reverse Baptism "Ass Traffic" LP on secret label, so far.
Reverse Baptism "Beep Traffic: The Radio Edits" heavily censored download of the LP for radio play; should be comedy gold.

Jason Crumer "Ottoman Black" LP re-issue (looking for label).
Jason Crumer + Matthew Parsons collaborative cassette (still recording).

And, a few other things I'm going to keep closer to the vest.  But, that's about it.


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