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.
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.
Check out POETRY IS RUINS, a recent release from Los Angeles recording artist Gunter Vile who refers to this collection as ‘music for imaginary film’.
Produced and recorded by Doug E. Lewis @ Venice Arts Club, Venice, CA.
MICHAEL C. RUPPERT may be best known for his featured role in the documentary film, Collapse, of which Robert Ebert had this to say, “I don’t know when I’ve seen a thriller more frightening. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the screen. “Collapse” is even entertaining, in a macabre sense. I think you owe it to yourself to see it.”
As a young cop Ruppert blew the whistle on the LAPD and CIA when he discovered a drug smuggling connection between the two. He went on to write the seminal, Crossing the Rubicon, the Decline of the American Empire in the Age of Oil and is currently the host of a popular one-hour radio show called the LIFEBOAT HOUR, broadcast live on the PROGRESSIVE RADIO NETWORK Sunday evenings at 9p Eastern.
One theme of the Lifeboat Hour, coined by Ruppert, is ‘a nightclub at the end of the world. Tune in any Sunday and you’ll here the show roar to life with the song, Avalanche & Earthquake, from DOUBLEWIDE, the January, 2011 37 song, 2-CD release from the Venice, CA music project known as the NEW WHITE TRASH.
Since mid-March, Ruppert has been premiering new material from the band’s upcoming second album titled, THE INNER REACH, scheduled for release on July 7, 2013. And while he is fond of pronouncing his love for the New White Trash, who refer to their brand of song as ‘music of the post-paradigm’, he’s also only too happy to let everyone know that he the guy singing the lead vocal on Avalanche & Earthquake because he’s a member of the band.
Growing up in the 1960’s in Venice, CA, Ruppert had a love for and dabbled in rock & roll, singing covers with local beach bar bands. Years later, in early 2008, he met veteran Venice musician/music producer and Venice Arts Club founder Doug E. Lewis while at a local dog park (their dogs are featured in the video for Avalanche & Earthquake). With Lewis’ encouragement, Ruppert gradually immersed himself in the writing and making of music as a founding member of the New White Trash, an idea concocted by Lewis and Ruppert in the spirit of their shared sensibility, that the music would take, by default, a course of social commentary and music activism. A manifesto was drawn up, other members signed on, the house filled up and the stories and chords of Doublewide unfolded from there.
“I couldn’t be happier”, says Ruppert. “Music is one of the great things in my life, and the opportunity to make this kind of music – to learn how to make this kind of music from guys like Dougie and Wade DeVoid (NWT multi-instrumentalist), to be a part of this process with them and with Kristen Vigard, James Mathers, Michael Jost, Lea Petmezas, we’re a family, a tribe of people who create together.”
With funds saved from the sale and distribution of Doublewide, the NWT reconvened in November of 2012, determined to make a followup album. The crew moved itself to Moffat, Colorado, a small dot of a town in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado, known for hot springs, high mountain ranges and the big views. Lewis’ converted farm house became the studio, and for three months the group lived together, ate together, played together.
The Inner Reach features 17 original songs, and picks up where the final line of the final song on Doublewide left off, “It all happened so fast, I don’t know what to make of it.”
Things are happening fast, it seems. Much is to be questioned, as it seems demockery is in full swing. Check out FOREIGN SOLDIERS, from the New White Trash and their upcoming album, The Inner Reach.