Monday, May 20, 2013

Artist Spotlight: CHRIS SQUIRE

I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to Chris Squire, a musician, writer, and photographer born and bred in San Diego, whose prodigious breadth of work spans the last two decades-- throughout which he has performed in over 20 San Diego-based bands; among them Heroin, Tori Cobras, Titwrench, Tiltwheel and Battalion of Saints.

Squire aka Billy Druid will be showcasing a rather impressive body of photographs Tuesday June 11th at the Tin Can, that serve as artifact to San Diego's illustrious and still-flourishing punk culture.

MAGIC BROTHERHOOD: Chris, you've been a part of the San Diego music/art scene for a number of years. Could you tell us a little bit about your background?
CHRIS SQUIRE: I'm a '70s kid. My earliest childhood memory is seeing Nixon's resignation speech on TV and asking my dad who he was, to which he replied, "That's our president, and he's a crook." I grew up in Clairemont Mesa and Pacific Beach. In 4th grade I began attending the School Of Creative and Performing Arts. I was an adolescent surf rat. I dressed like any typical surf-grom of that time, taking fashion cues from Jeff Spicoli. I listened to reggae and Led Zeppelin. I had Bo Derek and Cheech and Chong posters on my bedroom walls. But EVERYTHING changed when I embraced skateboarding and discovered the Ramones. When I first heard the Ramones I was completely blown away. The roaring, beautiful sound blasting from the stereo speakers filled me with excitement,  adrenaline, and purpose. At that moment, I knew that I MUST PLAY GUITAR IN A BAND. It was serendipity then that around that time, on the school bus, on the first day of the 6th grade, I met a kid named John Reis. He played guitar and he turned me on to The Dead Kennedys and Black Flag. He was quick and full of ideas and information, and he was hilarious. At this time SCPA was a hotbed of future movers, shakers of the explosive San Diego music scene to come, but no one would play as pivotal a role on shaping the scene as John would.

Aunt Tiki's, Decatur, Nola

MB: What are some of the most significant changes you have seen happen musically over the years here in SD?
CS: Population and over-saturation. Worlds apart. When I was first playing in bands there were no drummers, there were no bass players. We had 3 or 4 bands in our crowd that all shared the same bass player or drummer at any given time. It was dangerous to be a punk then too. You'd be walking down the street and trucks full of surfers or rednecks would yell "faggot" out the window at you, or, even worse, try to run you over. To be into punk rock was to be on the front line in a culture revolution. And when you met a punk rock kid from another part of town, that was an important connection to make. There was no internet. And we had to SEEK out new music. Which sometimes meant skateboarding for miles and taking buses even more miles in 4 hour treks across town to places like Off The Record, and communicating with bands in other cities via snail mail. Punk scenes all over the world existed in their own bubbles, which resulted in a much more diverse climate for bands to evolve in at that time. These days everything is formatted and polished and presented in perfect packaging for new kids to use as blueprints for scenes with no imagination, and it's revolting to me.

MB: Have any of these changes influenced you artistically? How have you changed over the years creatively?
CS: The only things that have ever influenced me are beauty, perfection, pain, and disgust. I've changed in subtle ways that come from age and experience, in that I'm more humble, yet as confident as ever, about my role in the world of music and art. When you're young, you're full of self importance. You strive for popularity and personal gain. Now the most important thing I can do is create something beautiful that touches someone in a positive way, and to do this with conviction, and know that I did it well.
Johnny from The Chemicals at the Tower Bar

MB: When we met up about a week ago, you mentioned that you do some writing. Perhaps you could tell us a little about what you are focusing on creatively these days?
CS: I love taking pictures. I love the randomness and unplanned aspects of candid photography. I just go where I think there might be some magic moments to capture and I fire away. It's like fishing, but more rewarding, with way better odds of bringing home a good catch.
Guitar Wolf at Club Siberia, New Orleans

 MB: Who are some of your favorite artists/writers/musicians?
CS: Ken Leek has published his first book recently, called The Origins of Disgust, Self-Hatred, and Hostility. It's definitely worth checking out. Some of my favorite authors are Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Palahniuk, Lisa Carver, and Joseph Heller. I was doing book reports on Hunter S. Thompson at 12 years old, and at 43 he remains my favorite writer. When I was 13 I got my hands on a copy of Glen Friedman's photozine, My Rules. I was mesmerized by the energy he captured in the striking images of young bands that seemed to be having a damn fun time being really pissed off about the world. Friedman knew where to be and who to photograph years before anyone else would catch on. My Rules became a starting block for my hunt for punk music. Ed Colver captured a lot of history from that time as well. He contributed a lot of photographs to the book, Hardcore California, which became an invaluable resource for me to continue my research into the movement. I devoured the knowledge and history it contained. Who knows what direction my life would have taken had I had that same passion for academics? Richard Kern does great work in film and photography. He has a unique way of presenting his subjects in a style that's equal parts erotic and/or repulsive. Like Glen Friedman, I let the pulse of the underground guide me to where I need to be to get the shots I take. I credit Tom Rulon with showing me the tricks that helped me to understand how to use cameras, and, more importantly, how much fun you can have with one. Mark Rude (R.I.P.) and Lee Ellington are pretty important "punk rock" artists from back in the day. I'm a big fan of Gottfried Helnwein, Robert Williams, Salvador Dali, and Raymond Pettibon. Sonny Kay from the G.S.L. record label does some really far out graphic art. Joe Coleman. Doug Thompson. Right now, I've been listening to a lot of obscure 60s and 70s psychedelic music, early rock-steady, garage rock, 60s era French female pop singers, and lots of hardcore from the past and present. A short-list of favorite bands would have to include Tales Of Terror, Crash Worship, Jonathan Fire*Eater, Velvet Underground, Thin Lizzy, Hanoi Rocks, The Stooges, Spacemen 3, MC5, Queen, NWA, Kill Cheerleader, Cheap Trick, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, Roky Erikson, Kinks, Crass, Cranford Nix (R.I.P.), Damned, Shocking Blue, Retox, Nurse With Wound, Current 93, Les Savy Fav,  Dillinger 4, Cock Sparrer, Hawkwind, Manic Street Preachers, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Conflict, Crucifix, The Who, Black Flag, Negative Approach, F-Minus, Big Black, The Clash, Reagan Youth, Discharge, Motorhead, Saints, Flipper, Void, Bad Brains, Germs, Radio Birdman, I could go on and on. I'm currently obsessing over the music of Jeff The Brotherhood, Fucked Up, Dan Sartain, the Arrivals, Cribs, Turbo Fruits, Man Of Clay, New Pornographers, Black Lips, Gringo Star, Gasmiasma, Tragedy, Graveyard, Hoax, Tobacco, Diarreah Planet, Lords, Magic Shadows, Marked Men, Blitz, Lightning Swords Of Death, Watain, Eagle Twin, Impiety, 1349, Torturium, Venom, and Gorgoroth. I'm obsessed with black metal. Locally, I want to give shout outs to the Tar Halos,Midnight Eagle, Death Crisis, Bumbklaatt, Beehive and The Barracudas, The Marsupials, The Widows, Archons, Tiltwheel, Nerve Control, and all the John Reis projects. There are so many I'm forgetting. I have tremendous respect and admiration for the late Jay Reatard (R.I.P), Andrew WK, Iggy Pop, Wayne Coyne, and Ian MacKaye. Bob Barley from Tit Wrench, Swami John Reis, Jay Poggi (MC Trachiotomy), Dave Quinn, Justin Pearson, Stewart Lupton, and Bobby Lane are all amazing people who I am thankful to have the good fortune of calling friends.

~Squire 5/18/13
 "Erratic & Unprofessional since 1970"

The opening of Chris Squire's solo exhibition, BEDLAM AND BEYOND, will be Tuesday June 11th, 9 pm, at the Tin Can.

more info:
Squire's Blog | Billy Druid on ReverbNation | Billy Druid on Myspace

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