ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED OCTOBER 5, 2013
“This is dangerous music…in many ways. But Doug Lewis has always been a subtly subversive artist. So AGE OF AUTHORITY, the latest release by musician/producer Lewis and NEW WHITE TRASH, should not come as a surprise to lucky listeners who have enjoyed his previous political/philosophical/surrealistic musical journeys (especially the tour de force “Crudland” and “Tell The Time”). Those just getting into Lewis will discover a pleasingly quirky collection that shows calculated disregard for sonic tropes and clubland clichés. On Age Of Authority, Lewis pairs his truly insightful writing and lyrics with those of bandmates Kristen Vigard and Michael C. Ruppert to explore the moral ramifications of the disenfranchised masses struggling to survive in the new world order. It’s not exactly a message being trumpeted by mainstream media…and for good reason — in the Age Of Authority, we are ALL New White Trash.” – Michael Lynn-E Entertainment/True Hollywood Story.
A discussion with Doug Lewis:
VAC: This is the second album from New White Trash, with much the same ‘cast’. How did it come about?
LEWIS: After completing DOUBLEWIDE, the first NWT album, I moved the studio from Venice (CA) to the north end of the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado. Kristen and Mike Ruppert had moved out of Los Angeles a year before me, Kristen to Taos, NM, and Mike to Sebastopol. In August of 2012, Mike made the move to my place in CO, which was a year after I had established a base. Another NWT contributor, James Mathers, paid a visit with Lea Petmezas in Oct of 2012 and when Lea decided to move out here, James made the move as well. During the spring/summer/fall of 2012, I had worked out some songs on the guitar along with some bass lines and so making an album was a great way to spend the winter of 2012/13.
VAC: The music and vibe of Age Of Authority feels like a continuation of Doublewide, thematically anyway.
LEWIS: The big picture hardly changes – love and war, heart and head, these are the themes of the real world and of our music, so our songs are either wry love letters or views on events torn from the news of the day.
VAC: The tagline for the New White Trash is ‘music of the post-paradigm’; do you consider this a genre?
LEWIS: It’s more of a personal brand, in that, collectively, we encourage the music to move in ‘meaningful directions’, one of which, for us, is social commentary/criticism, another is the draw of our experiences in the form of – usually and ultimately – cautionary tales. The ‘post-paradigm’ reference came out of Mike and I drawing up a raison d’être to offer insight into the NWT in name and in musical direction.
VAC: Your bandmate Mike Ruppert is fond of quoting you – “You can’t write a protest song on a full stomach.” How does that relate to your work throughout the years?
LEWIS: The music of the New White Trash is the outcome of a shared and outspoken sensibility between Kristen, Mike, myself and others. We are all on the same side of the cultural fence, so to speak. And we share an appreciation for the process and the sacrifice it takes to make an art project and create a body of work like an album. Also, we’ve all been doing this a while and in our various different way – Mike with his activism, Kristen has been writing, recording and performing music her entire life, and me, Age of Authority is my 22nd album as a musician/producer. I’ve only ever made music with a cultural lean and a political pov. And I’ve only ever made music with those mining the same ground. Anything else, at this late stage of the game, feels pointless.
VAC: Over the course of making all this music, all these songs spread out over twenty-two albums, how has the process on songwriting changed for you, personally speaking.
LEWIS: For me, the most profound change to the process happened in 1995 when I amputated the ring finger on my left hand. My guitar playing, post the loss of that finger, continues to evolve in ways of physical dexterity and personal style. Chopping off a finger then expecting to resume playing the guitar is not something I would recommend as a career choice, but for me, over time, I have no regrets. Otherwise, playing guitar, writing melodies and lyrics, crafting a song is a task like any other; you commit to the effort and embrace the experience of tuning in, musically and creatively speaking. It’s about inhabiting a world and also enjoying the creative process as a form of meditation/work. Over the years I have become particularly fond of treating the recording process as a community event, open door/open room style.
VAC: Being a guitar player with an amputated finger places you in an exclusive club…
LEWIS: Like I said, not something I would recommend.
VAC: What next for you and the New White Trash?
LEWIS: Looking forward to creating the third of the NWT trilogy, and hope to begin recording by mid-November (2013), although I’ve just received word that my 91 year old mother, who lives in San Francisco, needs some care, so I’m headed there now. We’ll see.