Unearthly Sounds Volume 6: Interview with Flood Damage
By J. W. Wargo
“Industrial rock with a black sense of humor, burlesque and machine rock fusion, experiments in sound and fury.” –Flood Damage Facebook Page
(This edition of Unearthly Sounds highlights a writer from within the Bizarro Community who also happens to be a kick-ass noise maker, Michael Allen Rose. I sent him 10 questions, he sent me back 10 answers, and then I cleverly edited my questions to sound more like we had a face to face dialogue. Clever!)
JWW: I already know who you are, but attempt to justify your meaningless existence to an uncaring world while I stand in the background periodically laughing maniacally at your futility.
MAR: Man, I didn’t know this interview would be work. Especially existential work. Your question represents an encroaching ennui that reveals the pathetic futility of existence. That said, I am Michael Allen Rose, author, musician, performer, raconteur, raccoon, racquetball player, rapscallion, rack and pinion steering… what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, justification. None of us are special, nobody runs the world and we’re all going to die.
JWW: Good, now that we’re done laughing let us commence with the serious talk. How much water damage has your band actually caused?
MAR: We try not to drink much water when we play shows, and stick to alcohol. We’re less likely to spill it because it’s expensive, and also nobody can point to the accident and say “Ha ha, flood damage.” And laugh, and laugh. Did you know that floods cause more damage and take a higher economic toll than any other type of natural disaster? It’s true. That’s why I named my band Flood Damage. Because we cost too much and soak your personal items.
JWW: Relevant! Your live shows incorporate some interesting stage antics. Please elaborate on them or face swift punishment from my Cat O’ SixtyNine Tails!
MAR: Having a background in performance, and being a fan of so-called shock rock and the theatrical, it was always important to me to have a strong visual presence for Flood Damage shows. When I first started doing live shows back in 2001 or so, it was just a guitarist and me, so we’d stage elaborate live pranks and performance things so as to be memorable and put on a good show without the traditional live band setup that people expect. He gave birth to corn-syrup coated baby dolls once, we did a mid-show juice box break, one time we had guys dressed as hillbillies come out and start square dancing with the audience… I guess I’ve always gone into any artistic endeavor with the idea that you need to be having fun doing what you’re doing, otherwise the audience will know and they won’t be having any fun either. So turn up the energy, the intensity, the craziness, and most importantly, don’t take yourself too seriously.
JWW: Fear not, for no one takes me seriously. Has your music inspired your fiction writing and vice versa?
MAR: It’s funny, I can look back at certain things I’ve written, even from many years ago, and I won’t be able to remember any of the specific lines I wrote but I’ll be able to tell you exactly what song was playing when I wrote the first line, or noted the concept. Music has always been really important to me, in all aspects of my life, and so it bleeds into my fiction a lot. It works the other way around too, as I always try to find ways to blend my theatre and performance work, my music and my writing. They’re certainly separate art forms in many ways, but the influence via connection is strong.
JWW: The creative mush made from multiple influences tends to look weird, but still tastes great. When did you discover the weird inside yourself and first unleash it upon the public?
MAR: I’ve always been weird, I guess. When I was a kid it amused adults (when it wasn’t making them worried about me), then as a teenager it became an albatross around my neck, marking me as a target for people. This is not a unique story. I imagine most of the creative types reading this had a similar experience. Luckily, in college, I became involved with the theatre and music and lit scenes, and figured out who I was. That weirdness was honed, shined up, refined, and became a base for the iconoclastic, silly, tongue-in-cheek kinds of things I like to do. So really, I was born weird, but it didn’t bloom and flower until I was old enough to understand that it was “okay” to be weird.
JWW: So often, too, do the Creative Types scream out “I’m not okay, you’re not okay”… but I digress! Tell us all the spoilers in your new album so we don’t have to listen to it.
MAR: Well, the butler did it. The bread was poisoned. The king’s brother stole the cheese. The plane crashed on an island that traveled through time. Billy learned to always wash his pelvis. I think that’s most of the spoilers. Despite that, you should still listen to it, because it’s going to be a slab of punky industrial rock with a lot of weird machines and banging things and yelling and beeping and sexy guitars and attitude. And doughnuts. Maybe. Maybe doughnuts. If I can find a way to record them. Also, people who have been following my music for a long time, it’s going to feel like an orgasm. I’ve been promising this album since 2007 (I’m a tad late) and really the last full Flood Damage album was “underlife” back in 2001. I’ve had a few songs on compilations and things since, but it’s going to feel good to have a full new pile of music for your earholes, out there in the world. The album’s working title is either “Instructions for the Assembly of God(s)” or “Muddy the Waters, Poison the Well” but that could change. Actually for those people kind enough to pay any cash for the album when it finally comes out, there may be a whole downloadable bonus CD… remixes and the like, from some really cool cats. More on that as things come together in the late winter, early spring.
JWW: Heh, “earholes”! Speaking of sexy guitars, why is your guitarist, Burlesque Queen Viva La Meurte, so damn hot and awesome?
MAR: Viva La Muerte stole a hotness and awesomeness potion from a gypsy once, so I think that was the turning point for her. I think she also bathes in virgin blood? Seriously though, she’s one of my best friends and super cool, so really I’m pretty biased, but it seems picking her to join my crazy crew was a good idea. Since we’ve been hanging out, she’s been flying around the country as a feature dancer, producing a few shows and even won Ms. Exxxxotica last year. So now I have a sexy little person, a Jewish flying squirrel, a Mexican… among others… basically I’m trying to become the “up with people” of industrial music. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT COLOR OR CREED OR BODY TYPE YOU ARE. YOU TOO CAN ALIENATE FRIENDS AND RELATIVES BY MAKING MUSIC THAT SOUNDS LIKE ANGRY BELGIANS TRAPPED IN A WASHING MACHINE.
JWW: A sound analogy of Industrial music if I ever heard one! Also, if you got the chance to play Trent Reznor just one of your tracks, which one would it be?
MAR: Maybe “TV Land Murders” which is one of the new ones… I’m pretty excited about that one. Older, but still favorite relevant tracks would be like, “Hooray for Everything!” or our crowd favorite “SeXee.”
JWW: Who would win in a chicken slap fight, Marilyn Manson or Courtney Love?
MAR: Love would come out of the gate hard and fast, fueled by cocaine and evil, slapping like some kind of whirlwind slapping robot. Manson would be trying to pose for the crowd, smearing his lipstick all over his face and trying to pretend to be a fascist dictator and whatnot, and it would be hard for him to handle her assault and shield himself while doing so. However, eventually the coke would wear off and the heroin in Ms. Love would take over, making her slothful and logy. Although she couldn’t feel the pain, Manson would take the second round through sheer brutal slapping. The third round though, would end up in a draw, with Love “passing out” (dying, until her personal doctors administered an adrenaline shot to her heart) and Manson getting drunk on the smell of his own absinthe-laden ego farts and wandering off to sodomize someone more relevant. Rough match, Joe. Rough match.
JWW: Perhaps it is necessary for performers from one generation to proclaim the death of music so that the next may reinvent and rebirth it. Will you be making music until the end of the world? What music will you be making at the end of the world? What will your last song be called, and if you haven’t chosen one yet are you considering the title “The End”?
MAR: I used to half-jokingly say that if I knew the end of the world was about to happen, Flood Damage would be playing a show right then and there, rocking out while the meteor crashed down and obliterated us. I like to think I still would. I think if we could time it so that we’d be finishing up right when everything went to shit, I might consider a cover. Something confusing. The Monkees maybe.