The deconstruction of organized sound put forth by multi-instrumentalist composer and improviser Weasel Walter is fiercely aimed at destroying the complacency of music and musicians. This is nowhere more evident than in his rotating cast of characters known as the Flying Luttenbachers. He describes the working plan of the Luttenbachers thusly, “The nature of operations has been to utilize the most appropriate people available — pushing the resulting chemistry as far as possible — and finally to abandon the formation when creative stasis has been reached.” Though he renounces all classifications of genre, the Luttenbachers are a manifestation of the attitudes inherent in free jazz, death metal, and punk rock: a sonic maelstrom of hate and disdain tempered with skills in spades. And behind all of this cacophony is a broader worldview than most drummers can shake a stick at.
Pushing the limits of music and his fellow musicians, Weasel Walter is leading the way to the noisy ends of the world.
Roy Christopher: Tell me more about your “against music” stance.
Weasel Walter: I tend to veer toward philosophical nihilism, so this perspective is often mirrored directly in all facets of my art. There’s a ton of potential dialectic beneath this simplistic sloganeering, but I generally prefer kicking asses first and taking names later. Sometimes this approach requires guerrilla tactics that certain people tend to find a bit too frank or extroverted. I don’t have the time to worry about everyone else’s precious tastes and social protocol. In the past I was working in a much more reactionary mental state than I am now. That is, I believed that anyone who wasn’t with my program was the enemy — the usual impudence and self-righteousness of youth in full effect. I still find much contemporary music and art uninspired and uninspiring. I am seeking to offer an artistic alternative by making a conscious commitment to create music that strives to avoid and surpass the prevalent complacency I see in the contemporary rhythmic, harmonic, melodic, and timbral approaches of energy music (by this I mean music which functions primarily on a visceral level as opposed to cerebral wall-hanging “Art” or modern classical-type composition). Of course, there’s still a long way for me to go, and I feel like I’m still at the tip of the iceberg. I’d like to think that the result of this struggle challenges the listener as well.
RC: You talk of your recent music as “investigations in different systems of complexity.” Do you consciously attempt to create and manipulate sonic bifurcations and bring forth new levels of complexity with sound?
WW: Of course! I’ll reiterate that there are so many possible parameters involved in organizing sound that I still feel like I’m always trying desperately to build some kind of solid foundation to base the future development of the music on. Needless to say, the dichotomy between improvisation and composition has become less pure for me through the years. I’ve always utilized a mixture of both methods to force moments of unexpected chaos (or entropy!). I like to keep my own band mates a bit unsure as to what is going to happen. This fights off the rigor mortis of operating in a “band” situation and getting used to a set routine. I do believe in the necessity of physical kineticism as a driving force in our modus operandi. Noisemaking has often resulted in new, instantaneous possibilities as well. Right now, I’m much more concerned with exploring unusual relationships in harmony, melody, and rhythm though. I’m less concerned with improvising and so-called chaos because I feel like I’ve done plenty of investigation within the possibilities of randomness/music destruction, and now I need to pursue order, as asymmetrical as that order might be. The obvious, pedestrian archetype here is the fractal and its inherent form — when what appears to be random and chaotic actually has infinite law and equilibrium behind it.
RC: Your fans miss the fact that a lot of what drives the Luttenbachers’ records is your worldview (the emergence of the robot as the next dominant species on Earth, and beyond). Care to delve into this further?
WW: Every aspect of our art is a reflection of my personal worldview. How far people read into this is up to them. If anyone does get it on this particular level, they generally don’t discuss it with me frequently.
It’s not that I’m trying to create some kind of moral parable that the robot is the next dominant species on Earth. I’m not that linear! It would be a bit too obvious and predictable if the plot was: Earth bad, cosmic retribution destroy evil Earth; robot good, robot leave Earth; me = robot, me live happy ever after. This is not the case. The emergence of the robot during the apocalypse scenario on the Gods of Chaos album is symbolic indeed, but not of superiority. The albums after that document the alternate dimensions/outer space the robot encounters before its own inevitable destruction, which brings us to the present album, Infection and Decline. If anything, the next record will be about reformation and new systems/orders following the ultimate annihilation of everything earthly, including the robot.
RC: With your composing, improvisation, playing, what is it that you’re looking for?
WW: Heh heh. Fulfillment, adulation, peer approval, money. You know. I’m trying to keep myself busy making things which I hope exist autonomously outside of myself and hopefully have tangible or profound depth to those few who appreciate it. My ideal scenario would be to have created something that I think is the ultimate end product of an incredible amount of effort, thought, and discipline and have it well-received, felt and understood by sympathetic people. As I’ve said over and over and over again, there seems to be a long way to travel before this is going to happen. I’m also searching for answers to bigger questions and this whole process is a constant exercise in research and development. I’m always looking to up the ante technically and intellectually.
RC: My friend Jon Skuldt gave me a great quote from you a few years ago: “Impatience is a virtue.” Could you expound on what this adapted aphorism means to you?
WW: I feel like there’s a good chance I won’t be here much longer and I have to see results now. I have to push things as hard as I can or I’m just wasting time like the useless drones that surround me. I can only tolerate the slovenliness of others for a short time. I don’t know . . . I think you know where this is going. I try to be tolerant, but I have a hard time accepting the bread crumbs that this world has offered me.
RC: What kind of stuff are you into text-wise.
WW: Uh, reading has always been kind of functional to me. I usually read to further research topics I’m obsessed with and not so much for entertainment or relaxation (naturally, I rarely afford myself any real relaxation). Lots of reference books about music history, music discographies, blah blah blah. I’m interested in what really happened behind certain art and music movements in regards to personal chemistry, socio-economical conditions, etc. I’m not amenable to accepting the popular, public versions of any kind of history. What we Americans are offered as definitive history by standard media and educational sources sure smells like horseshit to me most of the time.
One of these days I’ll get past page fifty-six of Harry Partch’s Genesis of A Music (Da Capo, 1974) and past page seventeen of Iannis Xenakis’ Formalized Music (Pendragon Press, 1992). Glenn Branca recently gave me Mark Leyner’s The Tetherballs of Bougainville (Harmony 1997), and I laughed so hard that my teeth all fell out. I like to look at vintage bondage-type pictures of Bettie Page, but that’s probably a bit more information than most people would like to know.
RC: Anything coming up that you’d like to tell us about?
WW: Nah. Well, actually we will be touring in July as part of a package with the Locust, Arab On Radar, Lightning Bolt, Erase Errata, and Wolf Eyes. I find this to be a significant culmination of a movement of musicians trying to investigate cultural alternatives and “kicking butt” at the same time. I think the tour will be well-documented, so that’s rewarding. The Flying Luttenbachers are currently returning back to the less glamorous private rehearsal process to work on some brand new material. I’m confident that this stuff will reveal yet another distinctive side to the band. I need to give props to Orthrelm and Grand Ulena, who I see as our peers (and superiors) in the struggle to push music forward another inch. I should also acknowledge Total Shutdown, Burmese, Get Hustle, Upsilon Acrux, Kevin Drumm, Greg Kelley, Andy Ortmann, Misty Martinez, Rat Bastard, Ex-Models, XBXRX, Conqueror (RIP), Sadistik Exekution, and Glass Candy, and the Shattered Theater.