In September of 2012, shortly after Mike arrived here at Red Cloud Ranch in the great San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, and before we got busy recording Age Of Authority, we were visited by two men who pulled in along the long drive leading from Highway 17. The older, the driver, said he and his son were looking at property and did I know anything about the property in the distance, how to drive there, what it was like, etc.
I’m looking at these guys, thinking to myself, no way is this younger guy the son of the older. Meanwhile, Mike had come out of the house and made his way over. He stood behind me and to the side. Of course he was packing. Without introduction, he called out, “So, you guys government men?’
It was a tactic, a quick jab. And it worked. Caught off guard, the younger looked at the older who hesitated, fractionally speaking, and it became obvious how they were, in fact, government men.
Their recovery attempt was hilarious. The older said, “No, no, were longshoremen, we’ve come down from Denver.”
After a beat, I said, “You’re a long way from shore, men.” Mike chuckled behind me. The older added, “But we’re from Oakland.”
It was too late. They were had.
Mike chimed in with a broad sweep of his arm, indicating the vast lone prairie surrounding us, “This used to be an ocean, once. And Dougie used to be a longshoreman. Isn’t that right, D?”
As they retreated, Mike muttered, “Government men”, and walked away.
* * *
Mike Ruppert was a soul man. He could sing and he could dance. Of late, the vision I have of Mike Ruppert is one of him knocking on heaven’s door. After a brief disclosure, the doors open and in he goes.
I take great pleasure knowing how Mike reached those gates before Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, or any of that host of unholy others. Upon their arrival, I imagine Mike’s conversation with the Gods of High Noon going something like this…
The Gods to Mike: “Dick and Don are here. And they want to come in. It’s your call, how do you want to handle this?
Mike, who has already stood up, snubbed out his cigarette, and is headed down the gangplank to meet the ‘little men’, looks back with a wry smile and says, “Let’s see if they can dance.”
My advise to Dick, Don, George and the rest of that ill-conceived ilk is this – If you’re thinking of heading heaven’s way, and knocking on those doors, think twice. You’re going to have to get through Mike Ruppert to get there. And you’re going to have show him you can dance. Good luck with that.
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.
AGE OF AUTHORITY from the NEW WHITE TRASH arrives 07.07.13
Rough mixes of selected songs from AGE OF AUTHORITY have been playing for the past eight weeks on the LIFEBOAT HOUR, a weekly one-hour radio show hosted by MICHAEL C. RUPPERT on the Progressive Radio Network. Ruppert, former cop turned whistleblower, author of Crossing The Rubicon who was also featured in the documentary, Collapse, calls his show, “a nightclub at the end of the world”. The NEW WHITE TRASH is in heavy rotation, and for good reason. Ruppert, along with Venice, CA music producer and Venice Arts Club host Doug E. Lewis, formed the NWT in 2009, soon after they met over dogs at a local Venice dog park. According to Ruppert, “our dogs bonded and so did we”. Meeting Lewis allowed Ruppert to return to his roots as a singer and fulfill his dream of making music.
The result of their collaboration was released January 11, 2011. Recorded at VENICE ARTS CLUB, the album DOUBLEWIDE, a 37 song 2 CD set features a host of Venice locals including multi-instrumentalist and musical activist Wade DeVoid, former Broadway and Soap star, Kristen Vigard, artist and Warhol protege James Mathers, drummer/programmer Andy Kravitz, guitarist Michael Jost, former Shadowfax bass player Phil Maggini, among others.
Next up for the NWT is AGE OF AUTHORITY, due out July 7, 2013. Recorded over the 2012-13 winter at Lewis’ new facility – RED CLOUD RANCH AND RECORDING STUDIO – located in Moffat, CO, at the base of the Sangre De Cristo range in Southern Colorado, Age Of Authority is 18 new compositions from a this time smaller ensemble of players, including Ruppert, Lewis, DeVoid, Mathers, Vigard and with bass guitar contributions from former Frank Zappa bass player, Arthur Barrow.
Says Lewis, “Out here in Southern Colorado though we’re pretty much on the lone prairie, our goal was to make music in a ‘Venice Arts Club’ kind of way, meaning to involve the locals, to find whomever was into making music and had a desire to sing or play to come on down and step up to the mic. So we found some amazing talent in the town of Crestone, located about twenty miles from my place…just down the road. Turns out Lea Petmezas, who we met through James Mathers, is a gifted singer, as is Jessica Holopeter. We enlisted JeseRe Pulver on flute and also ‘Diamond’ Dave Steele, who contributed some acoustic guitar tracks.”
Kristen Vigard, who now calls Taos, NM, home and has been making music with Lewis for twenty years, spent the better part of the three month recording process driving back and forth from Taos through sometimes wicked winter weather, explains that, “…it was totally worth it. Anytime I have an opportunity to record with Dougie, I’ll take it. We’ve been doing this a long time together, him and I. He knows how to make a record and have fun doing it.”
Ruppert agrees, and adds, “making this album was endearing but also enduring because, unlike being in Venice at the VAC with the back doors open and the fire pit flaming and lots of people milling and chilling, out at Red Cloud in Colorado we had a much more isolated and harsh environment – extreme cold made it difficult to remain outside for longer than a few minutes, so it was the group of us spending most of our time inside focused on the tunes. But what a great process it is to work on songs, writing lyrics and rehearsing parts…I love it!”
As a theme, Age Of Authority is a coherent followup to Doublewide. Lewis and Ruppert established early on, by way of manifesto, a musical activism built on social commentary combined with equal part exploration of heart, told primarily through a series of cautionary tales…love, loss, joy, sorrow.
Pre-release copies of Age Of Authority are available for review to music bloggers and music zines. Please contact: BillyBollocks@mac.com
Thanks for tuning in.
Scenes from Red Cloud Ranch & Recording Studio in Moffat, Colorado. Home of music producer Doug E Lewis. Red Cloud Ranch is currently host to the New White Trash and the production of their second album, The Inner Reach. Check out the music of the New White Trash here.
As theme songs go, AVALANCHE & EARTHQUAKE by the NEW WHITE TRASH is a good choice. Produced by Doug E. Lewis, A&E is the theme song for the LIFEBOAT HOUR, broadcast Sunday evening at 9p Eastern over the Progressive Radio Network.
Hosted by former cop turned whistleblower turned journalist/activist turned radio and film person Michael C. Ruppert, a theme of the Lifeboat Hour is ‘a nightclub at the end of the world’.
Ruppert loves music and he loves the New White Trash, the Venice, CA music project he founded in 2009 with veteran Venice musician and producer Doug E Lewis, multi-instrumetalist Wade DeVoid, drummer Andy Kravitz, singer Kristen Vigard, guitarist Michael Jost, multi-media artist James Mathers, and others.
The outcome was DOUBLEWIDE, the debut album from the NWT, released January 11, 2011 as a 37-song, 2 CD set. Avalanche & Earthquake, from disc one, features two dogs, Rags Ruppert and Squishy Lewis. Ruppert explains how he sees the video as a sort of tribute, in that, “Dougie Lewis and I met through our dogs, at a dog park in Venice, CA. If it wasn’t for the dogs, I can’t imagine how I would have ever had the opportunity to fulfill a deeply personal dream to play and record music.”
NWT musician and songwriter Wade DeVoid explains how Avalanche & Earthquake is an underlying theme of the band and its music, “We call our brand of song, ‘music of the post-paradigm’, it’s a sensibility shared amongst all of us, that we’re in it to play well-crafted songs which (often) combine elements of social commentary and music activism. Equally though, our songs are about matters of love and heart, leaps and losses, cautionary tales, in essence”
NOTE: The NWT is releasing their second album, THE INNER REACH on July 7, 2013. Selected tracks from The Inner Reach are currently being premiered week to week on the Lifeboat Hour.
NOTE: The working title/name of the second release from the New White Trash has been changed from The Inner Reach to AGE OF AUTHORITY. See newer posts for more information. (Updated May 27, 2013)
Since releasing DOUBLEWIDE on January 11, 2011, the members of the New White Trash went their separate ways.
Released on January 11 of 2011, DOUBLEWIDE, the 37 song, double CD release from the Venice, CA music project known as the New White Trash continues to attract listeners in large part to it’s continuous airplay on THE LIFEBOAT HOUR, a one-hour weekly radio show broadcast over the Progressive Radio Network and hosted by ‘uber-activist, former cop turned whistleblower turned journalist and radio/film person of interest, Michael C. Ruppert. Other members of the NWT include Kristen Vigard, known for her background singing with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and also for her early career on Broadway as the original Annie then later as soap star Morgan Richards on the Guiding Light. Multi-instrumentalist Wade DeVoid adds the multi-instrument music magic.
According to Venice music producer, Doug E. Lewis, who produced Doublewide at the Venice Arts Club, there were no plans to make another NWT record. Here’s how he tells it…
“What happened is that back in April of 2010, after the recording of Doublewide had finished, Mike (Ruppert) moved from Venice to Sebastapol. Around that same time Kristen moved from LA with her daughter Emily to Taos, NM for work, schools, etc. Wade had film and music work in Europe so he was gone. Then over the summer of 2011, I got the itch to get out of LA so I retreated to my ‘ranch’ property in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, a place I call Red Cloud Ranch & Recording Studio. Then in July I got a call from Wade who, before leaving LA, recorded with me a dozen bass tracks for possible future material. And so he calls to say he’s been working with the material and thought how a second NWT album would be a good idea. I had been in touch with Kristen, of course, who being in Taos was only 4 hours south of me. A few days later Mike called to say he’d been researching my area here in the San Luis Valley and decided a move was in the making, which he made a couple of months later. That’s basically how it happened. Wade showed up and we did what we do, which is basically live together and make a record. Ups, downs, highs and lows, it/they all go into the music.
“We began recording November 22nd, 2012 and finished recording February 22, 2013. Since then I’ve gone ahead and added some instrumentation, background vocals, etc. Then I took an ear break of about a month and have been mixing the tracks. A handful have been mixed by Bob Rice, who has also added some instrumentation. Also we’ve been fortunate to have the great and amazing Arthur Barrow (Zappa) play bass on several of the tracks.
“The title for this body of work, THE INNER REACH, came fairly early as a line out of the song of the same name. I’d been kicking around the lyrics for decades, and had even tried recording the song once before but was never happy with it. Originally the lyrics were named ‘Harlem Holiday’ but all that changed, as songs tend to do. This new material is very much in keeping with the NWT vibe and theme – music of the post-paradigm – and also with the NWT manifesto, which Mike and I drew up to address the urgency for a robust and vocal social commentary and music activism.
“I’m really pleased with the vibe of this record. With the dust settled, we have 22 tracks of which 16-17 will make up the album. Musically and lyrically, Inner Reach picks up where Doublewide left off; it’s two years on and it feels that, while humanity may be striving and yearning for ever higher levels of consciousness and awareness, an argument can be made that we have more fully entered the ‘age of authority’. So much of the material on The Inner Reach deals with this post-paradigm shift away from the ‘age of enlightenment’ towards an uneasy, dishonest age of authority. It’s the never-ending slippery slope as described in the NWT manifesto.
“But The Inner Reach also deals with what I call the ‘two sides of one heart’ – Love, War and the politics of both. That line, two sides of one heart’ is from Drifted, one of the new songs on this album sung by Kristen with Mike singing background and also the bridge which goes, “Curse this bloody place I watched/My sail turn to dust/My rudder turn to rust/My compass spin and stop/At a point where I could not.
“I see and hear The Inner Reach as an engaging body of work and typical of a shared sensibility between myself, Mike, Kristen and Wade. There are other contributors also , and we have been fortunate to find amazing talent in the nearby hipster town of Crestone. Jessica Holopeter contributed amazing background vocals, as did Lea Petmezas and JeseRa Pulver, who also played flute. Also Dave Steele on guitar. We were also really fortunate to have another NWT founding member, James Mathers, make an appearance and contribute lyrics to the song, Mad Forgetter.
“As a producer, this kind of music making, what I call ‘community music making’, is central to my creative process. Providing an opportunity for people to contribute, irregardless of their musical stature, pro, amateur or otherwise, is really at the heart of it for me. It basically a situation where what applies most is ‘leave your ego at the door and step up to the mic’. It’s not for everybody, this particular type of process, but it does yield creative results while providing a platform for people to feel a part of.
Currently, the songs from The Inner Reach are being premiered on The Lifeboat Hour. The album is due for official release on July 7, 2013, at which time, like Doublewide, a physical package and a sponsorship package will be available.