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I guess everyone who knows a bit about the Finnish noise scene is familiar with Pekka PT. The man has been around for quite a while with his many projects. In the following interview you will find out about Pekka’s many projects and sources of inspiration, of what Otto Donner did during one of his gigs, what former Death In June member Patrick Leagas said about his vocals, of what is good and bad noise like, of noise scene in Finland and elsewhere, as well as of what Pekka thinks about spanking, G.G. Allin, Pekka Siitoin, toilet humour, and of many other things!

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Pekka PT speaks!

019bIf this interview could take place anywhere, anytime, real or imaginary space, where would we be making this interview?

The place where they’re waiting for Godot.

Who are you, what do you do? Could you tell us about your background, all the projects you’ve been working with and being part of? Which one of those projects has been the most important to you – or should they be considered first of all as an organic whole?

I’m Pekka PT, I’m over 30 but under 40 years old and I live in Southwest Finland. I’m underground noise musician, family man and blue collar worker.

My main project at the moment is called Sick Seed. It’s power electronics with heavy industrial leanings and some noise thrown in as well. What I do is structured, pretty much song-oriented material with lyrics that handle my different interests.

Then there’s SSRI, which is harsh noise with psychedelic and industrial elements. I felt that the relatively strict approach of Sick Seed wasn’t enough and needed another outlet for my noise doings.

The two above are a continuation of my earlier noise project Gelsomina. It started as a pure harsh noise project with an aim to make as pure and “radiant” noise as possible. Having accomplished that, or at least having worked on that as long as it was satisfying, I moved to more organic, lo-fi, industrial sounds and moods and then came a time when everything was so different it was time to shed skin and begin a new project. Gelsomina did several releases in different formats and some of them were even somewhat critically acclaimed.

Paraffin Affiliates was a free-noise improvisation band in which I played guitar. We released one CD-R album and played a few gigs.

Skullpture was another improvisation band but with more drone approach and mostly done with guitars. We did a few CD-R releases. We were and still are good friends, but as far as I remember, all the recording sessions were frustrating and very unfriendly for some reason.

Speaking of old projects, there’s Clay Figure, which was my first serious recording project. No-limits four-track experiments. This project did a few CD-Rs and tapes, started to turn into a real band and then folded, but now I’ve resurrected it and done a comeback tape and there’s more to come. There’s a chance that I might merge Clay Figure and SSRI at some point but we’ll see.

There’s also Peenemünde, which is a collaboration project of Pentti Dassum and me. Industrial noise. We have one CD out and a second one coming up sooner or later.

sickseed5I play guitar and sing in scum metal noise rock band Chains Of Death Command. It started at first some years ago and we did one tape and forgot about it. Now the band has been resurrected with slightly different line-up and we’ve released one 7” and played one gig, recording of which will be released on tape very soon. The first tape will also be reissued since it was very limited and people have asked about it. We’re currently working on new material and there are plans for a couple of split releases.

I’m a session member of Verde, which is a kind of experimental electronic krautrock laboratory. Studio and live line-ups have featured a lot of different musicians from underground amateurs like me to professional and academically educated musicians. This band is always great fun. Hopefully we can release a new CD some time this year.

I’m also a session member of Johannes Faustus, an artrock band that just released its first album and we’re starting to rehearse for (possible) gigs soon.

There are/have been some others but they’re either just beginning or meaningless past. Besides, aren’t all those listed more than enough?

Priorities of projects change, but at the moment Sick Seed, SSRI and Chains Of Death Command are the most important ones. But yes, it’s all also an organic whole. Ars Magna. There’s a lot of overlap and I often recycle sounds and ideas from one project to another.

I have an impression that your projects’ names are well thought to describe their contents – is this correct? Would you tell us something about how you came up with the different names for your different projects.

Absolutely correct.

The name Gelsomina was chosen because it was very “non-noise.” I took it from the movie La Strada, which I was obsessed with, especially the Gelsomina character, at the time.

gelsominaSick Seed was first the title of Gelsomina’s “sex noise” tape. When I decided to quit Gelsomina and move on, I felt the continuing project needed a more suitable name. At the very beginning it was very much connected to sexual frustration and deviance and that’s what the first Sick Seed tracks were about. The scope did broaden quickly, though, and now it’s more about social “issues” and personal search. Self-therapy. There’s sick seed in me that needs to be discharged before it eats me inside. There are many things around that have grown from sick seed and there are malevolent forces that sow sick seed.

SSRI officially means selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, but it also means Sick Seed Recycling Industries. Most sounds that I use on SSRI are recycled and reworked from my other projects.

Clay Figure name was taken from a pic I saw in some art book long ago. There was this installation titled “35000 Clay Figures on a Field” that had a room full of small, crude clay figures. I was first going to use that full name but luckily came to my senses. Clay is material that can be easily molded and it has this earthy quality and working results in amateur hands are often very crude, so it was perfect for what I was doing musically with that project.

On the other hand, I think all these names have started to live lives of their own, separate from their original meaning, ideas and connections.

In addition to noise releases you have put out a quality live c-tape of Keuhkot. What’s the story behind that release?

Keuhkot tape was released by Arkisto, a label that I run in co-operation with Pentti Dassum of Umpio, Nekorekords and many other things. It’s dedicated to reissues, unreleased unearthed old material and authorized live bootleg recordings. There’s not much of a story and I wasn’t personally involved in anything. Pentti had that recording and he acquired permission from Kake Puhuu for a release.

Who and what have been and are your biggest influences and sources of inspiration as an artist?

More or less directly influential bands/artists at the moment: Einstürzende Neubauten (until Tabula Rasa album), Con-Dom, Vivenza, Etat Brut, early Merzbow, latest Grunt albums, Brethren, Eric Lunde, early Swans, K2, early SPK, Brume, Nurse With Wound, early Contagious Orgasm, IRM (mostly lyrically), etc… Lots of “early” stuff it seems. Everything was better before and the first demo was the best.

My early noise influences were C.C.C.C., Incapacitants and Borbetomagus but I’m not very interested in any of them anymore.

Writers, thinkers, people, etc.: William S. Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, Philip K. Dick, Robert Anton Wilson, Samuel Beckett, Stephen Baxter, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Aleister Crowley, Uuno Kailas, Kurt Vonnegut, Alan Moore (especially Promethea), Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, etc…

Other things: Dada, Discordianism, Surrealism, Vienna Aktionism, Art Brut, science/speculative fiction (everything from serious/hardcore to total pulp trash), The Church of the Sub-Genius, Chaos Magick, Tarot, occultism in general, 1970s and 1980s exploitation cinema of all kinds (other cinema as well, although I’m not nearly as big a film freak as before), Gnosticism, abandoned buildings, decomposition, metal objects scraping concrete surfaces, survivalism, etc…

sickseed2What kind of instruments and equipment you use in making noise?

Anything, no limits, although I usually prefer a physical sound source. Metal junk with contact mics, synths/oscillators, effect pedals, bass, guitar, tape manipulations, anything. It often goes in phases where I concentrate on one instrument or source of sound for some time and then move on to something else when I feel I’ve got out everything I can at that time from one thing.

The only common thing with everything is that I do final editing on a multitrack software on computer.

How many gigs you’ve done thus far and where have you performed? Most memorable gigs, incidents, memories in general from these gigs?

All bands and projects combined, I’d say around 50 or a little more. Not much but there aren’t that many opportunities for this kind of music. Nor will I play just anywhere. I’ve played in pubs’n’clubs, private venues and festivals. Mostly in Finland but Gelsomina did a small UK tour and Paraffin Affiliates played in St. Petersburg once.

Most memorable gigs are Verde playing at Kaustinen Folk Music Festival and another Verde gig at a musician friend’s birthday party where we were spontaneously joined by Otto Donner. When Gelsomina played in London, former Death In June member Patrick Leagas commented that my vocals sounded like Hitler. There have been good and bad times at gigs, but luckily mostly good.

What tapes and CD’s of your own creation are available currently and where one can get them?

Sick Seed’s debut album The Great Corrupter is available from me in both LP and CD format and the label (Filth & Violence) should also have them. There’s also a tape version coming soon. Sick Seed Live + 1 tape is available from the same label as well as from me. Man And Machine 7” is available from me and the label (Turgid Animal). I don’t have copies of Elephant Man tape left but the label (Obscurex) should have. The same label also has Peenemünde CD and Unclean / ABNTR / SSRI split tape and you can get those two from me, too. Shift / Sick Seed split LP and CD are available from me and probably from label (Freak Animal) and Shift as well. I also have plenty of copies of Chains Of Death Command 7” and last two Verde CDs.

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Noise and the scene

How you listen to noise? Is c-tape the only true format for it?

sickseed6Either I concentrate on it fully or play it as background music for reading. I think noise should be listened to loud enough so you hear all the details. Listening to it REAL FUCKING LOUD isn’t necessary to me though there’s time for that every now and then. Good noise works at a reasonable volume, too, I think.

C-tape is traditional format and it’s still the most reasonable for small editions that noise releases usually are. Some noise fits better on tape, some on vinyl and some on CD. I don’t care what is “true” and what is not, especially since things described as true kvlt grimmfrostbitten are usually everything but.

How do you define ”noise”?

I’d rather not, but if forced at gunpoint, I’d say something like music, sound art or “aural object” that abandons melody, harmony and rhythm and replaces them with loud, abrasive, dissonant sound. That’s a crap definition, I know.

What do you listen to in noise?

Sound, details, interaction of different elements, composition, rhythm (not in “beat” sense). I’m not necessarily looking for originality but it certainly does no harm.

Why you listen to noise?

I like it, simple as that. It speaks to me. It interacts with what I have inside me. It’s the sound of destruction and building, decomposition and growth, full cycle, aural Alchemy.

How much you listen to noise in relation to other kinds of music you listen to?

I think I listen to other kinds of music much more than noise although it goes in phases, too. I haven’t noticed any certain times, situations or states of mind that would define what I want to listen to. It seems completely random.

Is noise music?

I think it is but what is music?

What is good noise like? What is bad noise like?

PekkaPTlive4Good noise is done because it has to be done, bad noise because it can be done. As said above, originality is not necessary but I loathe old farts who ride on their past and shit out one scene product after another. I don’t mind humour in noise unless it’s some post-modernist ironic piss-take. Good noise is passionate, bad noise is a product for target audience with no heart, brain or balls.

If one listens to noise a lot does it mess one’s ”biorhythms” and body up? Will plants die at home?

No, it heals them. Plants also, no need to water them anymore.

What are noise artists and listeners like – is it possible to make some general notes about them? How homogenous are these people in their age, style, political views, approach to life in general, etc.?

Male, 20-40 years old, background in other kinds of underground music, interest in “cultural extremes,” politically/ideologically either nihilist or into one extreme or another. That’s a broad generalization off the top of my head and there are exceptions. Education and family relations seem to vary a lot.

What do you think of the scene nowadays here in Finland and elsewhere? Where do you think the most interesting artists come from right now?

Finnish noise scene has been extremely strong for some years already and seems to continue that way. There’s a lot of variation in styles and people do their own thing instead of copying others or following trends. Most newcomers are very promising and bring something new to the table.

I can’t say much about scenes abroad since I don’t (have a chance to) follow them as closely. There’s been a lot of good stuff coming from Sweden all the time but it seems they’re now more productive and enthusiastic than ever.

You can talk about German style or UK style power electronics or Japanese noise or US noise, even Swedish sound but I don’t think there a special Finnish sound. Maybe it’ll take a foreigner to point out what it is?

I’d say everything from Finland and Sweden is worth checking out these days, with other countries there’s much bigger percentage of hit and miss.

Noise scene has its controversial elements, maybe especially in live settings. Have you been at some gigs where you were worried about the act in one way or another? Have you experienced or heard or seen of some noise act that you think did develope into something unacceptable or such? How people inside the scene approach these elements? How often artists just play with controversial elements because of shock value, how often there is some well thought points and intentions behind them?

sickseed1Some time ago I saw a performer cut a deep gash on his arm with razor blade. It looked bad (and actually needed 30-40 stitches afterward), but he just kept playing and rubbed blood from the wound on his face and equipment.

Once someone had a backing video of extreme pornographic material at an all-ages gig. I was sure there would be consequences but apparently there weren’t minors present or nobody cared. Another time someone had a backing video that showed cumshots on dead/dying rodents. That did cause some fuss, which was no wonder as it was a kind of crossover gig with plenty of unsuspecting audience.

I agree there are controversial elements but I don’t think they exist to the degree that outsiders and/or newcomers often think. It’s those elements that easily get anyone’s attention so it’s no wonder. I can’t say what’s the ratio of shock value (nothing wrong with trying to shock people, it’s just the attempts are usually in vain – most noise listeners are very much jaded) and serious content but I think it’s rather easy to spot who’s playing with taboos and controversial elements and who’s into them for real.

How are you inclined politically and ideologically? Did you vote in the last presidential elections?

I used to think I’m “Third Position,” but I’m not sure what it means anymore… I believe in individual nation states with their own customs and characteristics instead of one big consumerist multicultural sewer. No one should be ashamed of their heritage and no one is responsible of their forefathers doings. I’m anti-plutocratic, anti-globalization, etc. Most importantly anti-stupidity and anti-evil.

I did vote in presidential elections. My candidate was the one I thought would be the smallest evil. He wasn’t elected.

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Associations

What the following things and persons bring to your mind?

Turku

Finland’s true capital.

Sweden

Bögjävlar.

Freedom

Is it freedom to (do) something or freedom from something? Either way, I doubt it really exists.

Hippies

People who ask you for cigarette, get angry when you don’t have any and then pull a pack out of their own pocket.

UFO’s

I’ve never seen one, which doesn’t mean they wouldn’t exist.

Jodorowsky

Influential film director, thinker and magickian.

USA

Scapegoat for things everyone’s guilty of.

Firearms

We had hunting and sporting guns at home when I was a kid. I lively remember the sounds their moving parts make. The sound of authority, responsibility and respect.

Sauna

Peace and relaxation.

G.G. Allin

Hero and embodiment of free spirit.

TV

Vampire, both psychic and physical.

Nuclear war

Obsolete.

Pekka Siitoin

Another hero and free spirit, the Great Blasphemer and True Man.

Spanking

For naughty boys and girls.

Genesis P. Orridge

Once a pioneer, now something else but I’m not sure what.

Cryopreservation

Useless. Life is here and now.

Hate crime

Carnivore put it well: “Xenophobic tendencies instilled in us at birth are mislabeled racism.” I think “greed crime,” ie. economic crime is much bigger problem and root of all other crime.

Death penalty

Ultimate means for state to use its power.

Toilet humour

…or no humour at all!

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Future etc.

How your own music and approach to it has changed or developed during these years? Where do you think you are going with your music in the future?

PekkaPT5I’ve of course become more skilled and have tried a lot of different new equipment. I’m also not that interested in most extreme noise anymore, but moved towards more organic industrial sounds. I used to aim at sound that’s radiant like sun, if that makes sense, but now my ideal sound is that of decomposition and rotting, that of wood creaking, that of shoveling earth.

Starting to use vocals with Sick Seed and already in the end of Gelsomina was a big step. At that point I felt confident enough to start shouting and also that I could write lyrics that are good enough. I think I write good lyrics already but I want to become even better. I’d also like to use more varied vocals (not melodic singing though) in the future.

Can’t say for sure where I’m heading but I’d like to become better in cut-up techniques and learn to use different kinds of tape machines better. I’d also like to keep experimenting with combining noise and “real” instruments but it’s a slippery slope. I’m a guitar player at heart so I’d like to practice guitar more and utilize it more in my recordings.

How do you see the future of noise in general?

Same as its past. Art, entertainment and subculture for a small circle of people.

What kind of plans or visions you have for your distro? What kind of releases and publications we will see in the future? Do you have confirmed gigs in the future?

If everything goes well, there will be Mania / SSRI split tape and K2 tape out in February. There are more planned releases but I won’t talk about them yet lest they get jinxed one way or another. Next Arkisto release will be a Sewer Pyysalos tape (total cut-up insanity, their two CD-Rs reissued) and there are some very interesting relics waiting for Arkisto treatment so stay tuned.

pekkalive6As for gigs, there will be a Sick Seed record release party in autumn or early winter and there’s been talk of one gig abroad in spring 2014 but we’ll see. I’ll also perform as a member of Sonno Ferrum, a kind of “metal junk super band,” in May.

What makes you happy?

To crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and to hear the lamentation of their women. That and quiet family life.

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Thank you for the interview, Pekka!

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Some related links:

Pekka’s distro Untergeschoss.

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Keikkaraportti: Live: SSRi, Umpio @ Kirjakahvila, Turku 28.9.

Live: SSRi @ Kirjakahvila, Turku 28.9. (1, 2).

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Pekka PT – Gelsomina/Hard & Obscure/Sick Seed interview.

Untergeschoss 2012 interview.

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Arkisto / Umpio / Nekorekords.

Filth & Violence.

Freak Animal.

Obscurex.

Shift / Unrest Productions.

Turgid Animal.

Verde.

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Olen missannut Death in Junen, neofolkin suuren nimen, livenä varmaan kolme kertaa aiemmin. Kun bändi saapuu Turkuun, tuntuu siltä, että tätä ei nyt enää voi olla näkemättä. Lippu onkin tullut hankittua jo hyvissä ajoin.

Totenkopf6Hieman ennen keikalle lähtöäni on Sarastuksen verkkolehteen ilmestynyt Rami Leskisen kirjoitus Eurooppalaisuuden puolustus nykymusiikissa: neofolk ja martial industrial. Ehdin vain silmätä sen ennen kuin astun ulos lumiseen ja kylmään maisemaan, tallustamaan kohti bussipysäkkiä. Leskisen artikkeli vaikutti pikaisella silmäykseltä hyvältä.

On vähällä, etten jää ulos kylmään seuraavaa bussia odottamaan, sillä näen jo kaukaa, miten linjuri starttaa pysäkiltä. Somalikuski kuitenkin pysäyttää bussin Mesikämmentä varten keskelle tietä, kauaksi pysäkistä. Sisällä bussissa huomaan, ettei mukana ole käteistä. Noloa. Sanon kuskille, että käyn pikaisesti torille päästyämme kadun toiselta puolelta nostamassa käteistä ja tulen maksamaan sitten matkan. Epätavallinen menettely sopii. Reilua.

Torilla sitten automaatti näyttää olevan epäkunnossa. Lopulta selviää, että kapistus suostuu antamaan vain 50e:n seteleitä. Sählingistä huolimatta ehdin kuin ehdinkin takaisin bussille ennen sen lähtöä ja saan maksettua matkani. Kiitän kuskia ja jatkan tallustamista kohti Dynamoa.

Dynamo on vanha puutalo. Sen narikan edessä sen pystyy haistamaankin. Lava, tai keikkakolo on merkillinen tasku, jonne ei näe n. kahdesta kolmannesta koko tilaa. Ei itse asiassa oikein siitä yhdestä kolmannestakaan, sillä lava on perin matala. Paikan feng-shuit eivät ole keikkapaikalle ehkä parhaat mahdolliset. Olinkin näistä syistä ihmetellyt, miksi keikka oltiin järjestetty Dynamoon eikä Klubille.

Minulla on mukanani Billy Grahamin elämänkerta, jonka aion antaa ystävälle lahjaksi. Paikalle on kerääntynyt kohtuullisen paljon väkeä. Bändin merchandise pitää sisällään levyjä, paitoja, patchejä ja Schwarze Sonne-rintaneulaa. En osta mitään. Tuttuja on paikalla paljon. Heitä on mukava nähdä. Ilmapiiri oli rento.

Intro vetää ihmisiä lavan eteen. Keikkakoloon on pian survoutunut sen verran väkeä, että aivan eteen ei helposti ole enää asiaa. Rumpujen taakse astelee vähäeleisesti, sanaakaan sanomatta, nokkanaamaariin ja maastopukuun pukeutunut mies, josta ensimmäiseksi mieleeni tulee Pentti Linkola. Ryhmän keulahahmo Douglas Pearce kävelee lavalle yleisön läpi shamanistisia perkussioita heiluten, siinä kuuluisassa naamarissaan, maastopuvussa.

Keikka alkaa muutenkin lievästi shamanistisissa merkeissä, sillä ensimmäiset biisit sisältävät lauluosuuksien lisäksi ainoastaan lyömäsoittimien luomaa tunnelmaa. Siinä on jotain varsin hienoa kaikessa yksinkertaisuudessaan. Juha Pentikäisen tai Anna-Leena Siikalan pitäisi olla kokemassa tämä.

Kylmä puutalo keskellä pimeää talvea. Lavalla kaksi brittiukkoa, joista molemmilla on arkaaiset naamiot ja maastopuvut. Rumpali näyttää kalastajalta ja laulaja taas muistuttaa ilman naamiotaan häkellyttävästi Eläkeläisten hanuristi Lassi Kinnuselta. Yleisö on jäyhää ja juo olutta. Talvisotaa oli tähän aikaan vuotta vuonna 1939 kestänyt noin kolme päivää. Lavalla on useampi suuri Totenkopf-lakana sulassa sovussa sateenkaarilipun kanssa.

Keikan akustinen osio ei aluksi sisällä ns. hittibiisejä. Jossain vaiheessa Douglas toteaa jotain sinne päin, kuin että nauttikaa tästä kun voitte, voi olla ettemme pääse tänne taas vähään aikaan. Tämän perään hän toteaa jonkun aasinsillan kautta, että we are feeling miserable. Yleisö taputtaa! Hivenen häkeltyneen huvittunut Douglas toteaa siihen, ettei ole koskaan kuullut yleisön taputtavan sille, että joku sanoo hänen olevan miserable. Tämän jälkeen yleisö nauraa. Douglas toteaa lakonisesti …and now they laugh at us… Hyvässä hengessä, kuitenkin.

WhiphandDeath in June ei ole koskaan ollut itselleni mitenkään erityisen tärkeä bändi, mutta jollain tavalla nämä kaksi lavalla olevaa ukkoa onnistuvat nostamaan tämän neofolkin suuren nimen pisteitä kirjoissani. Huomaan tämän siinä vaiheessa kun kuulen livenä ensimmäisen koskaan kuulemani bändin biisin, Giddy giddy carousel. Kuulin sen aikoinaan Sacred War-nimiseltä kokoelmalevyltä 90-luvun alussa.

Keikkasetti on tässä vaiheessa muuttunut sellaiseksi, että duo soittaa, mitä yleisö pyytää. Hittibiisejäkin alkaa kuulua. Meininki on hyvä. Totean, että ei tämä konsepti olisi kyllä toiminut niin hyvin Klubilla kuin tässä intiimissä vanhan puutalon kolossa.

Noin tunti neljäkymmentäviisi minuuttia kestävä setti, johon encoretkin kuuluvat, menee ohi kuin siivillä. Poistun aikataulullisista syistä johtuen paikalta ensimmäisten joukossa. Billy Grahamin elämänkerta on edelleen taskussani. Se täytyy toimittaa ystävälle joku toinen kerta.

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Valokuvat ja videoklipit Mesikämmenelle antoi Fr.V.

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Videoklippejä keikalta:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

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Boyd Rice: An Embodiment of the Wolf’s Hook

As many of you know, I wrote an article “Church of Satan is dead” some time ago. That article got me in touch with a documentary movie maker Larry Wessel, who’s interview “Larry Wessel speaks!” I then made. Wessel’s latest movie, Iconoclast, was six years in making. The result is a four hour long ride that goes through Boyd Rice’s life in three parts. This includes a good deal of history of pop culture and art too. After watching the movie I knew I wanted to write a review of it. However, after reading Carl Abrahamsson’s excellent review I thought I would have nothing to add to what he had said, because he put it all so well. You can find Abrahamsson’s review from here. Well, I thougth I could still write something about the documentary. If nothing else, I could write down my notes of the contents of the film and some of my rambling notes in between. What follows might be boring reading as it pretty much just lists the contents of the film. For those who are interested in Boyd’s art, life, and persona and have not seen the film yet, my notes and ramblings might still be interesting. So, with this note, or warning, let me begin.

Part One: Lemon Grove

Part one of the movie starts with Boyd reading his poem Secrets:

That is most powerful which remains unknown

Except unto you, and to you alone

There are secrets that slumber behind these eyes

And I stand by my secrets, my truths and my lies

There are secrets that soar where the eagle flies

Above man’s truths and beyond his lies

There are secrets that slither like snakes in the night

Coiled in shadows, far distant from light

There are secrets that confront you in the midday sun

Yet remain unknown to everyone

A secret burns bright when its law is obeyed

But is doomed to fade when that law is betrayed

For that is most powerful which remains unknown

Except unto you, and to you alone.

It seems to me that in some poetical way the ethos of this poem carries through the whole documentary. I don’t know Boyd but it seems to me that the poem carries the spirit that is present in all that Boyd has done and what he is like. He is difficult to label, he is multidimensional. He is often labeled this and that, often as something sinister and suspicious. But the truth probably lies somewhere between the lines, one could say between the opposites. I was reminded already at this point of the film of the wolf’s hook rune and how it really well seems to symbolize the essence of Boyd and his work.

After that Bob Larson does exorcism, Boyd goes to a tobacco store and buys a whole box of Samuel Gawith snuff. Wait! Is that that nasal tobacco? Yes it is, you can see Boyd taking it later in the film, in part three of the documentary, at the Absinthe studios. I have never tried nasal snuff, but I enjoy a lot the kind of snuss (especially portioned General) that you can buy in Sweden (I am having one portion under my lip right now while writing this).

A family history follows. A whole bunch of old pics. A story of a neighbohour average man’s everyday routine and how Boyd decided he will never be like that. We hear of a tv prank and a good deal of a tiki-culture. Already at this point my idea of Boyd starts to get new dimensions. I did not know that much of his interest in tiki and of things related. My idea of Boyd had previously been formed pretty much through some of his NON-recordings and his association with the Church of Satan. I think I am not the only one  like that. Much more interesting new dimensions to Boyd and his works is about to follow. This is getting really interesting.

We hear what happened in 1969. We hear of a Dark Shadows character who said: “Two natures have always existed in man, one good the other evil, perhaps with this we can bridge the gap in man’s divided nature”. Boyd comments on this: “And like a portal opened in my soul”. I am again reminded of the wolf’s hook rune and its essence. It is becoming apparent that the symbol has found a resonance within Boyd very early and that he has ever since worked to unfold the symbol’s mystery.

“Two natures have always existed in man, one good the other evil, perhaps with this we can bridge the gap in man’s divided nature”.

We hear of Strange paradise. We hear of Anton LaVey, Charles Manson, and Tiny Tim – how they were totally different and still much alike. We hear a story about Martin Denny. We hear a story about a man who lost his keys in Italy and found them from Florida. We hear about decadent Hollywood and its coolness. Rodney Bingenheimer. Glamrock. Principal in a nazi uniform poster prank. We hear a story about Boyd making a life size cross in high school and his work at Taco Bell – and of eating a moth there every now and then. Bean-qhr-qwr-qhr. We hear about how to make photos of things that does not exist, St. Jean Cocteau and Captain Beefheart’s nightly calls. Then Boyd tells about dada, surrealism, alchemy. I like it all, I can totally relate to what I hear. An image of Boyd as an artist starts to surface, an image that is new to me. The guy starts to get more and more interesting, minute by minute.

Boyd tells us how “women like it weird”. He tells us of his open-ended paintings, and again the wolf’s hook rune comes to my mind. The principle is there again. Skinned sheep’s head gift to the first lady is pure gold. A priceless prank, instant art performance. Next we hear how Boyd was living dada real. Steve Hitchcock illuminates us about how magic and alchemy is part of what Boyd does: “Boyd was someone who introduced me to the idea of alchemy of thought, where by you take negative or valueless proposition and turn it to your own advantage, by sort of inverted perception of it, which can be done, it takes a disciplined mind, a disciplined mentality if you want to make use of that, but it certainly is a valid principle”. Do you see the wolf’s hook and its principle at work again here? I do.

We hear of Boyd meeting Genesis P-Orridge. We hear of 1977 and the famous The Black Album, Boyd’s deal with Mute records, the birth of NON, and why punk was just glam rock with harder edge. Next we hear of something in which Boyd was again ahead of the time: Pagan muzak record that can be played with different speeds. This happened years, years ago. The first time I heard of such a record was when Butthole Surfers’ Hairway to Steven came out in 1988. Before of that I had for my own amusement listened to lots of records with different speeds – pretty much with the perspective of “open-ended paintings” of which Boyd spoke about earlier in the documentary. You can find the same thing interesting with different angles, perspectives. Things are most of the time not black and white, but composed of many colors and shades.

Who invented tape-loops? It was Boyd. He tells us how nothing in the world is fixed. We hear of “the world’s weirdest record”. We hear of the first NON show, which was “louder than Led Zeppelin”. There is a note of music as sounds, not so much as songs. Iitywimwybmad. Roto-guitar. Stuff ahead of the time. Live sounds from that part of the documentary remind me of some amazing underground noise gigs that I attended at Some Place Else in Turku, South-West of Finland around 2004 and 2005. Boyd did that kind of stuff about 30 years earlier. I find that rather impressive.

Part two: San Francisco

Part two of the movie deals with Boyd’s years in San Francisco area. We hear of Incredible strange films and research involved. Director Ray Dennis Steckler is revealed to be also actor Cash Flagg. The amazing scopitone machines are introduced. Boyd tells us of “close-ups of tits shaking a few seconds too long” and girls doing dances in bright colors. Sounds and looks good to me.

Then comes something I knew there was going to be covered, Boyd’s association with Anton LaVey. “Living in San Francisco it was inevitable that our paths would cross”. Blanche Barton tells about getting to know Boyd and why Boyd and Anton got so well along. “Role of the Devil has to be… one that challenges”. Barton also tells that Boyd also understood the trickster, prankster side of satanism… which is something that not everyone understands. Coop, the artist, tells about “making it hot for them”… and that “of course that applies to Boyd, perfectly”. We hear of Blinky the friendly hen’s funeral and resurrection. Vampire aesthetics. There is a note about romance and cultured gentleman in a vampire – and how below that side is a beast. A perfect wolf’s hook principle at work again.

Stanton LaVey, Anton LaVey’s more known daughter’s son, appears briefly in the film too. His first sentence in the film is “Boyd did fuck my mother!” which is followed with a warm laugh. He clearly has positive thoughts of Boyd. It seems that Boyd has had much warmer relationship with Zeena than I had. Back in the late 90’s and early 2000 I met Zeena few times, corresponded with her and it was an ongoing argument. Zeena and her husband Nikolas thought that I was trying to put too much love into the left hand path. They even called me “Jesus of darkness”. But that is another story.

Beth Moore-Love is an artist who I was not familiar with earlier. We see some of her amazing paintings. She says of Boyd: “He’s very intelligent. I like people who not only think outside of the box, but outside of the entire packeting industry… Boyd is one of them”. Boyd tells a chilling story of San Francisco’s Chinatown and its rats. It is very easy to believe. I lived in the city for some time in 2004 and Chinatown was one of my favorite places there. I visited it quite often and wondered about the smell of the place. Rats fit in the picture well.

“He’s very intelligent. I like people who not only think outside of the box, but outside of the entire packeting industry… Boyd is one of them”.

Next Boyd tells us how all the women who he brought to LaVey’s house had the next night a dream of having sex with LaVey. Boyd tells of LaVey’s different alter egos, the crime boss, the china man, and how LaVey could keep with a role for hours. The stories are hilarious and Boyd cracks up telling them. To readers of LaVey’s works it comes as no surprise that LaVey was living in a sort of alternative reality or realities he chose to live in. We hear very interesting angles on the subject. The famous Johnson & Smith’s catalogue is covered, and how “consternation” is the word related to it. Whoopee cushion. Remote controlled fart machine. How Anton programmed his keyboard with different fart sounds. The movie has been very fun already from the beginning, not just at this point. Barton tells how she and Boyd got Anton to record his music. It is very much likely that without them there would be no recorded music of LaVey.

Then comes the part dealing with Charles Manson. “Two minutes after meeting him he is giving me this you-are-me-and-I-am-you -routine”. Boyd tells us how Manson has one feet in the world of a fantasy, another in reality. We hear a story of Charlie telling to Boyd about taking a helicopter and visiting Ajatollah Khomeini. We hear that there are secrets Manson has told to Boyd – and which Boyd has promised to not tell to anyone while Manson is still alive (this reminds me of Boyd’s poem Secrets, with which the movie begins). Why Boyd got in touch with Manson in the first place? Why he seems to have interest in individuals who have been labeled very “sinister”? Some of Boyd’s associates gives a perspective on this: “Boyd has always been sort of attracted to those people who disrupt society in some way, that cause, that show the limitations of what we pretend to be civilized, I don’t want to put words into Boyd’s mouth but I know that’s part of what attracts him to this stuff”. I think this is a good angle to the question. The documentary gives a broad context where one can reflect on that. I think the documentary also gives an idea of the wolf’s hook rune, its essence and principle in artistic action – pursued by a questioning mind that does not see things in black and white but as “an open ended paintings”. Things are not fixed. In his pursuit Boyd is not afraid of putting himself in positions where he can easily get misunderstood. He is not so much afraid of social pressure as most of the people are.  Such a courage in looking at the human equation is hardly a bad thing. I would rather argue that seeing things in black and white is a bad thing. Finally, we hear of how Manson got into a solitary confinement for two weeks because of a bullet that happened to be in Boyd’s pocket – and how that ruined their relationship.

“Boyd has always been sort of attracted to those people who disrupt society in some way, that cause, that show the limitations of what we pretend to be civilized, I don’t want to put words into Boyd’s mouth but I know that’s part of what attracts him to this stuff”.

Then the documentary comes to the symbol that I’ve already mentioned few times, the wolf’s hook rune. We hear of the balance point between creation and destruction, “exactly the meaning that has been the guiding force in my life”. Adam Parfrey enters the picture – the guy is “on the same wavelenght “with Boyd. We are informed about the Apocalypse culture, 8-8-88 at Strand Theatre, San Francisco. We hear of the nazi accusations Boyd has been thrown with. “Boyd was not, is not, and will never be a nazi… you could take it as seriously as the Producers movie”. Anyone who has watched the documentary thus far must agree with that.  To say that Boyd is a nazi is absurd. We hear about the victim culture that likes to whine about everything. We learn of a mexican poster and ABBA-book that was stolen from Boyd (whoa – I did not know that Boyd likes ABBA. I have always liked them too. In my article “Church of Satan is dead” I pondered how much common ground I might have with Boyd. It seems there is much more than I thought). The San Francisco part of the movie ends with a story of Boyd moving to Denver. We hear why the place is cool. We hear that the building Boyd lives in was built in 1890. We hear how Boyd had a Carnival of souls welcome to Denver.

“Boyd was not, is not, and will never be a nazi… You could take it as seriously as the Producers movie”.

Part three: Denver

Part three deals with Boyd’s time in Denver and the stuff he has done since moving there. There is a recording session at Absinthe studios. Fredrik Nilsen gives another perspective on Boyd that tells of his wolf’s hook nature and approach to things: “He is a scholar of evil. He’s not evil. In fact, he’s a very sweet, loving, guy. But he seems to have an incredible knowledge of the nature of evil and he seems to be willing to chronicle and look at it in a sort of… empirical way, I’m not sure it is empirical… aesthetic way. And I think he is pretty great”. We see a footage of Boyd’s guest lecture “Regarding evil” at Massachusetts institute of technology. We hear of Oswald Mosley and his ralleys – and how his symbolism influenced Throbbing Gristle and David Bowie. We hear how Marilyn Manson (who has called Boyd his mentor) also used the Mosley symbolism after Boyd noted to him about it and about “a cross between glam rock and Nürenberg rally”. We hear about how to manipulate archetypes – how to step into a role you want to be in and how it then flows into you. There is a funny anti-fascism demonstrators talk with Boyd. After that there starts a really interesting part where Bob Larson talks with Boyd. He says with a big smile: “Bob has been working with me for the past 14 years… he doesn’t give up”. Boyd’s sense of humor is great and a watcher of the documentary is blessed with tons of it.

“He is a scholar of evil. He’s not evil. In fact, he’s a very sweet, loving, guy. But he seems to have an incredible knowledge of the nature of evil and he seems to be willing to chronicle and look at it in a sort of… empirical way, I’m not sure it is empirical… aesthetic way. And I think he is pretty great”.

We hear of the Partridge family & Partridge family temple: “Our religion is based on fun”. We hear of archetypes on TV. Giddle Partridge speaks. A story of Boyd as a catholic priest “blessing” kids rosery beads is pure prankster Boyd. Gidget Gein speaks how his idea of Boyd went up and down. The subject of social darwinism is touched upon. Another angle to wolf’s hook is given: Abraxas – an entity that is good and evil at the same time. We learn that Boyd has Charles Manson’s copy of the Bible. Bob Larson tells Boyd that “maybe you need an exorcism”. Boyd and Bob talk about paradigms of reality, good and evil. All in a very good spirit, pretty different from what it was like in Bob Larson’s radio show in the early 90’s. Boyd tells about Might is Right by Ragnar Redbeard and about Lions Lair and women who got spontaneously naked for him there. We hear of Tiny Tim and his phonecalls, talk about women. Nutcase letters LaVey got. LaVey’s guns. We hear a hilarious prank that Boyd did with “Got milk?”-campaign’s billboard that featured David Copperfield. The billboard had  a picture of Copperfield’s face with some milk on his upper lip and a text saying “What’s the magic word? Calsium”. Boyd changed “Calsium” with some paint into ”Cum”. I once made a similar prank with Canal plus billboard… maybe you guess what I painted it to be? Margaret Radnick tells about Boyd’s love letters to her. Boyd’s friendship with Rozz Williams is covered. Douglas P. tells an amazing story about nazi-monkeys attacking old German men with bananas. Boyd’s bar Tiki-Boyd as an alternative reality is covered.

The talk between Boyd and Bob Larson continues. If there has been lots of interesting, even surprising turns in the film thus far, it gets even more such at this point. Boyd and Bob talk about some kind of possibility to survive death, and Boyd even tells that he nowadays thinks that some kind of reincarnation of consciousness might be possilbe. Bob comments: “You may have to turn back your Church of Satan card!” Boyd: “I tried and they wouldn’t take it!” Bob: “What happened to your old misanthropic idea of things? Obviously you must have mellowed in your hatred for humanity”. Boyd: “I’m still fairly misanthropic, I just don’t think I’m not actively misanthropic. Because I’m a very happy individual and I just find it if I treat everybody with a certain degree of civility they usually treat me with civility so generally they’ve used to people treating rotly and when somebody comes along who is nice to them it is big change for them and I gotta see the best sides of everybody if I treat everybody decently and they in turn are nice to me”. Bob says back in amazement: “Do you realize what you just said? You have just recited a part of Sermon of the Mount. You have just articulated one of the most important ethics that Jesus taught! Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you”. Bob continues: “At least you’re not at this point trying to bring back Thor and declare total war!” Boyd says smilingly: “Yea, I need to change the lyrics…” We hear “People” with improvised lyrics. The movie ends with Boyd’s poem, just like it started. The ending poem is Boyd’s Gift:

On my own

Hour after hour

Sipping cocktails

And reading Schopenhauer

Living in a world

Without imagination

I see that hope

Is a lack of information

I turn my back

I shut the door

I lock the key

A prisoner in my home

But it’s lovely to be free.

After that we hear Boyd singing Terry Jacks’ Seasons in the Sun. The film ends.

As I said, the movie is multidimensional. It covers a lot. It is funny as hell. It is thought provoking. It is surprising. It gives a picture of Boyd that one might not expect. Anton LaVey said once that “Boyd is a true iconoclast” and one cannot but agree. As it has most likely become clear, I would like to add that Boyd is an embodiment of the wolf’s hook rune, the symbol he has carried with him since his childhood.

Larry Wessel has made one hell of a film and I highly recommend it to everyone who is even cursorily interested in Boyd and his art. This documentary is a classic.

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One thing leads to another. After writing my post Church of Satan is dead I got in contact with Larry Wessel who has made a documentary Iconoclast about Boyd Rice.

Who is Larry Wessel? If you don’t know him already his website Wesselmania is a good source to learn more:

“The impact of Larry Wessel’s style can be seen everywhere from the advertising campaigns of Madison Avenue, to the proliferation of ‘Reality Television.’ Larry is known for his original, colorful and highly graphic collages. His artwork has been exhibited at museums and galleries including the Laguna Art Museum, La Luz de Jesus, Mark Moore Gallery, and Outré Gallery. Collectors of his collages include Adam Parfrey, Nick Bougas, Anton Szandor LaVey, Coop, Rev. Steven Johnson Leyba, Martin McIntosh and Johanna Went. Wessel’s collages have also appeared in the pages of magazines such as HUSTLER, Answer Me!, CHIC and MALEFACT, and Martin McIntosh’s books Taboo: The Art Of Tiki and Beatsville, as well as the cover of Adam Parfrey’s Cult Rapture & Gene Gregorits’s Midnight Mavericks.

In addition to collage, Larry Wessel is well known for his extensive documentary film work. He produces, directs, writes, shoots and edits profoundly twisted and provocative video work. Bloody bullfights, cool artists, obsessed collectors, way-out writers, the transgender underground and the dark side of Los Angeles, are just a few of the subjects of this wild man’s throught-provoking documentaries. Academic discussions of Wessel’s films can be found in the books Killing For Culture, by David Kerekes and David Slater, and Psychotropedia by Russ Kick. Interviews with Larry Wessel have appeared in numerous publications, such as Headpress and PANIK, as well as the book Sex & Guts 4, by Gene Gregorits and Lydia Lunch and the book MIDNIGHT MAVERICKS by Gene Gregorits.”

I was more than happy to get a chance to interview the man. Here, ladies and gentlemen, Larry Wessel speaks!

 

If this interview could take place anywhere, real or fictional place, in any period of time, where you’d like us to sit and talk of things? At your homebase in Los Angeles?

On the outskirts of Stockholm, Sweden where my wife Tora and I plan on moving.

Iconoclast has finally come out. It’s a four hour film that was six years in the making. Quite a project. How do you feel about it? Are you happy with the outcome? What has the response been like?

I am very happy with Iconoclast! The response has been 100% positive. Many who have seen it use the word “Masterpiece” in describing it.

You’ve made 16 films previously. How does Iconoclast differ from your previous work?

6 years is the longest I have spent working on any previous film. I also believe that Iconoclast is more epic in scope than my other films. More than just about Boyd Rice, Iconoclast covers 50 years of American Pop Culture history.

How did the whole documentary get started?

I received an email from Boyd Rice declaring that he was a fan of my documentaries and he said that my films were more than just mere documentaries, that they were like “experiencing a phenomenon”! He asked if I would like to do a documentary about him and of course I said, “Yes”!

Was it a smooth process to do the documentary, were there any special challenges in making it?

It went real smooth and was a lot of fun all the way!!

Setbacks, happy surprises, interesting and funny turns?

No real setbacks that I can think of. Lots of happy surprises, interesting and funny turns all the way through! It was a lot of fun for me to look up people from Boyd’s past and interview them. They all had very amusing stories to tell that reveal a lot about Boyd Rice.

You interviewed lots of people for the documentary. Did you get all the people interviewed you wanted to?

Mostly. There were very few people who refused to be in it.

How was Bob Larson?

Bob Larson was fantastic!! He and Boyd engage in deep philosophical discussions throughout Iconoclast and Bob allowed me to film him performing an exorcism as well!!

You’ve known Boyd well before making the documentary. How did you get to know Boyd in the first place?

I met Boyd in 1997 at a concert he was supposed to perform at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles with Death In June. A group of protestors succeeded in getting the nightclub to prevent Boyd from performing that night.

Did making the documentary change your view of Boyd and his work somehow?

I really got to know Boyd very well during the making of Iconoclast and gained a keen understanding of how much of his work is rooted in humor. He is absolutely one of the funniest people I have ever met. I have had the pleasure of seeing Iconoclast in crowded cinemas in Los Angeles and San Francisco and people laugh their asses off and applaud throughout the entire film from beginning to end!! I think that perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of Iconoclast is how very funny it is!!

What is Boyd really like in person when one gets to know him better?

He is extremely charming, funny and infinitely mysterious. He constantly challenges one’s ideas. A true iconoclast.

How does his public image differ from his private personality?

He is very much like Anton LaVey in this way. His public image is widely perceived as very harsh whereas his private personality reveals a very intelligent, soft spoken gentleman with an intense sense of humor.

What do you most like in Boyd and his work?

His sense of humor.

Both you and Boyd have a long association with the Church of Satan and Anton LaVey. LaVey was a big fan of certain kinds of movies and he also really enjoyed your works. What part does LaVeyan satanism play in your movies? Do you consider your movies to be acts of magic? If so, what kind of results do you aim to gain from your magical films?

Anton was one of my closest and best friends that I have had the good fortune of having in my life. He has always been infinitely inspiring to me and always will be. I don’t want to sound pretentious but I consider creativity to be a very magical act. To create something from nothing by definition makes one a God. I like to think of my films as magical spells that inspire people to think for themselves. One can learn from and grow from experiencing my films. People tell me that they get a lot of inspiration from my work.

Iconoclast is out there on DVD. Can you tell us something about the DVD?

Here is the description from the back of The Iconoclast 3 Disc DVD Set…

ICONOCLAST is a 3 DVD Set:

Disc One: LEMON GROVE 1 Hr. 25 Min.

Disc Two: SAN FRANCISCO 1 Hr. 02 Min.

Disc Three: DENVER 1 Hr. 26 Min.

ABOUT ICONOCLAST:

Boyd Rice may well be the only person alive who’s been on a first name basis with both Charlie Manson and Marilyn Manson. His career has spanned more than three decades, during which time he has remained at the epicenter of underground culture and controversy. Rice first came to prominence in the 70’s as one of the founders of the genre known as Industrial Music, and soon gained a reputation for live shows that were deemed the most abrasive, minamalist and loudest concerts ever staged (his shows regularly clocked in at 130 decibels, whereas a jet plane taking off was a mere 113 decibels). As early as 1980, he was already hailed as The Godfather of Noise Music.

Since then, Rice has extended his creative pursuits to numerous fields, even lecturing at The Massachusettes Institute of Technology, despite being a high-school dropout. “My life”, says Rice, “is a testament to the idea that you can achieve whatever the hell you want if you posess a modicum of creativity, and a certain amount of naivete concerning what is and isn’t possible in this world. I’ve had one man shows of my paintings in New York, but I’m not a painter. I’ve authored several books, but I’m not a writer. I’ve made a living as a recording artist for the last 30 years, but I can’t read a note of music or play an instrument. I’ve somehow managed to make a career out of doing a great number of things I’m in no way qualified to do”.

Larry Wessel’s documentary, ICONOCLAST is a 4 hour long tour de force, 6 years in the making; an in depth expose of Boyd Rice’s life, career, and personal obsessions. No mere documentary, ICONOCLAST is more of a roller coaster ride through the fevered mindscape of one of the most controversial and unique artists of the modern age.

The ICONOCLAST 3 DISC DVD Set is available for purchase for $30 (includes free shipping worldwide!) at WWW.ICONOCLASTMOVIE.COM

Are there plans to show the film at some film festivals? Other plans related to Iconoclast?

Although I have had many offers, there are no current plans to screen Iconoclast at film festivals. There are plans for theatrical screenings coming this Spring, 2011 or Summer 2011 at The Anthology Film Archives in New York.

You have a Swedish wife, Tora.

Yes! Tora and I have been married since 2006 and our love grows for each other every day!! Among her many talents, Tora is starting to be known as one of the most talented photographers working in the world today! She has a website in the works called WWW.WESSELMANIAPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

Have you been in scandinavia or Finland?

I have been to Sweden and Denmark. I am looking forward to visiting both Finland and Norway as well.

Anything you’d like to say to your Finnish fans?

Thank you very much to all of the many Finnish fans who have purchased Iconoclast!! I am very grateful to all of you and have enjoyed the Rave Reviews you have given Iconoclast .

Do you have plans for the next film already in mind? What can we expect from Larry Wessel next?

Yes…there are 3. The first is about collectors and the obscure objects of their desires featuring artist extraordinaire, Jason Mecier! The second is a documentary about another artist extraordinaire, Beth Moore-Love. The third one is Pt. 3 of a trilogy about Los Angeles.

What makes you happy?

My marriage to my one and only true love…The love of my life, Tora Wessel.

 

Thank you for the interview, Larry! Mesikämmen blog wishes you success with Iconoclast!

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