Tuesday, January 19, 2010
We were playing in Portland, Oregon, I think it was the spring of 1994. I was wandering around town and came across this cool little record store and went in to look around. I asked the woman behind the counter if she had anything new that she liked, and she handed me Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.
I clearly remember liking the cover and putting it on in the bus. I didn’t love it at first, but I remember thinking the first track sounded heartfelt. That was enough for me to want to play it again, after which I began to really hear the first track. I also began to notice the second track, and found myself gravitating to a couple others deeper in the record as well, like “Range Life” probably, though at this point I didn’t even know what the songs were called. This process continued with each subsequent listen. The record just kept sounding better and better.
To make a long story short, by the end of the tour I could not stop listening. I fell in love with that record. I ended up getting everything they put out. Wowee Zowee is my favorite. Pavement was the soundtrack to the second half of the ‘90s for me. I had a couple friends who felt the same way and we would quote lines to each other in the corner at parties. “chim chim chim sing a song of praise, for your elders… They’re in the back. Pick out some Brazilian nuts, for your engagement… Check that expiration date man, it’s later than we think.”
Most of the people I hung out with didn’t really get what the big deal was, but to the friends I had who really liked Pavement at that point, it felt like we were in on a secret.
What do you find appealing about Pavement’s music?
“Father to a Sister of Thought” is one of my all time favorite Pavement songs. I used to sing that song to my girls to put them to sleep—“Rotten device, I’ll say it twice;” “Angel of Corpus Christy, you’re so misty.” Listening to it now, I’m transported right back into that era, the mid to late ‘90s. The busses and hotels, the parties in Burlington, the European tours. It’s really emotional.
I love Stephen Malkmus’ guitar playing. Check out “Rattled by the Rush”. He kind of reminds me of Neil Young, who’s playing I also love. They both know how to milk it. When I met Bryce Goggin he told me that the solo on “Rattled” was one take, which didn’t surprise me because it sounds so fresh. Bryce’s genius is knowing when not to “fix” something, which is a tough thing for a lot of producers to get. Bryce gets it. He knows that “right” or “perfect” usually isn’t better.
I wish I could appropriately thank those guys. Their music was a big part of my life during that emotional, turbulent period. I’ll always be grateful.
But his latest ingenuity may be his greatest.
Along with his mother, artist Marjorie Minkin, and tech guru Jamie Robertson, Gordon has created an interactive instillation that blends his music with his mom’s art. Called “Another Side of In” and on display at the Boston Children’s Museum through March 31, it features painted plastic sculptures linked to sonic loops pulled from Gordon’s solo record “Inside In.”
When visitors approach, the loops are triggered. It’s pretty trippy. But no more so than a Phish concert - or Minkin’s art.
“I often describe my mom as my biggest influence, partly because she’s always been into stretching limits,” Gordon said. “A typical day growing up would be coming across Mom using rollers to spread 10-gallon buckets of acrylic paints across giant canvases.
“About 20 years ago, we first thought about how cool it would be combine her visuals with my music,” he continued. “Since I was very little I liked the idea of combining the visual with the auditory.”
Mom can vouch for that.
“Even as a kid, (Mike) was always interested in technology,” she said. “I always though he’d be an engineer or inventor. Long before anyone thought of it, he hooked the TV up to a video camera and was talking with and seeing the neighbors through his invention.”
For years, mother and son have brainstormed collaborations, but it wasn’t until 2005 that the “Another Side of In” project began. First, Gordon gave mom abstract loops to create pieces to.
“I need to get into it so I listened to the loops over and over and over again while I worked,” Minkin said. “Some of them were pretty bass and drum heavy. My neighbors must have been a little annoyed.”
Once Minkin sculpted her human-torsolike reliefs, Gordon linked the loops to her pieces using interactive sensors.
“When I was living in New York I would go to these exhibits that were slated as interactive, but I was usually very disappointed,” Gordon said. “They wouldn’t work right. You wouldn’t feel engaged.”
To design the complex system needed for “Another Side of In,” Gordon turned to Minkin’s neighbor in her Waltham studio, Jamie Robertson, a former Disney employee who designed interactive theme park exhibits. Read more
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