released January 21, 2020
Stream or download via bandcamp!
A spiel about ‘The Second Time’
The five poems on The Second Time were written as poems: the only duet I had in mind was between the letters and the white page they were printed on. But now that they’re songs–I sent Mike Watt a batch of about thirty poems, and he picked these five to set to music–I can’t imagine them without bass.
Mike Watt works very fast. He told me what poems he wanted to use, and it seemed as if the music showed up ten minutes later. I was really, really nervous about the idea of fitting pre-existing poems into pieces of music, but thanks to his brilliance, his imagination and his rhythmic precision, I realized pretty quickly that the bass recordings were like beautiful envelopes the poems slipped right into.
He is a supreme listener. I like how, in “Former Location of the C.H. Evans Brewery,” he left pauses between his note clusters. I think he was paying attention to the line “A song sparrow sings pauses sings /Pauses sings,” and his sensitivity to that line means that the song structurally enacts what it’s about. The poem is about gaps–it’s about being vaguely aware that things are missing (your parents, sailors who drowned, a building in your town) without consciously connecting them to each other. “The patient sound of the train not coming.” Mike’s composition brings that hinted-at aspect into the foreground.
Words and music have been paired for thousands of years. I don’t mean to suggest that we are original, but I don’t know of another situation quite like ours. It’s not like I listened to Patti Smith records or Jack Kerouac’s narration for the film Pull My Daisy and thought, yeah, I want to do that! One of my favorite quotes about poetry comes from an essay called “The Other’s Other: Against Identity Poetry” by Reginald Shepard. He says, “Poetry is potentially liberating because its uselessness marks out a space not colonized by or valued by capital. ” Poetry has no market value–it’s fundamentally anti-capitalist. I believe Mike Watt shares this ethic–he makes art for its own sake, from the Minutemen and his hundreds of other projects all the way to Jaded Azurites. Every human needs things that aren’t measured in dollars and cents. Notes and pauses, words and silences: the rhythm here is the rhythm of breath–mine in speaking, Mike’s in playing, yours in listening.
released January 21, 2020
karen schoemer – vocal
mike watt – bass
all words by karen schoemer
all songs schoemer/watt
recorded during 2019 in new york and california
produced by mike watt
all photos by karen schoemer
copyright jaded azurites. all rights reserved.
Watch the video for ‘diane arbus’
Watch the video for ‘former location of the c.h. evans brewery’
FORMER LOCATION OF THE C.H. EVANS BREWERY Evening heat domes the weeds Silhouetted birds browse the sumac A song sparrow sings pauses sings Pauses sings the rhythmic gap Filled with slanted light the lappings Of waves on the old cement boat launch The patient sound of the train not coming Deer startle and scatter in the scrub Their coats a comical conspicuous red They’re not signs of encroaching nature Just survivors in the park by the Filled-in dump Bangladeshi boys Play cricket the leap into immaterial Is accomplished easily by some Melville looked at the Pacific and saw Elysian fields sweeping over souls Of sailors summer a farm Mom and Dad I don’t even try to scale that Chain-link fence there’s no rubble No foundation if I stare at it too long The back of my hand will dissolve