Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 5 No. 3 | Fall 1983 (Portland) /// Issue 19 of 41 /// Master# 19 of 73

“ I don’t wanna ever have to sing about no meltdown, I don't wanna have to quote Allen Ginsberg . . . Plutonium Ode . . . Who was it first broke that atom into little bitty pieces anyway but Edward Te lle r . . . You can eat my jelly roll.” “If we were an instrumental band,” Balmer says, “we’d just be standing up there playing weird music. But when Billy comes up and all hell breaks loose, that allows us to bring out a whole different aspect of ourselves." Billy: “My style of singing is built around playing in the street and catching people by surprise. In the street, you have a totally alive audience. . . . A lot of the antics I use come from being a mediocre Willie Nelson-Bob Dylan singer, and out on the street everybody would pass me by. So I just started screaming at people, ‘Hey, gimmie a quarter, Oohoooohowow!!”’ “ I haven’t heard any band in this country that can cop a groove similar to what Miles is doing and then have Billy K. come in and improvise on it,” Mitchell asserts. “Conceptually,” says Billy, “that was the thing that interested me most about joining this band: I’d always wanted to learn to sing on top of Miles Davis.” “ It’s nice playing loud, real loud,” says the 25-year-old Balmer. “There are 13 million people in America who own guitars, and most of them started under the impression they would be playing totally loud at gigantic rock concerts, jumping up and down for ten thousand screaming teenaged girls. I’ve always wanted to play loud, wailing music.” “The more you increase the volume," Billy says, “the bigger truck you’ve got to turn around; the quieter it is, the quicker Jesus can be here. But this band can work at a loud volume and do real well, because everybody has more freedom. You can just shake your head and go loose, and when you come back in, you know that it’ll be there . . . “I don’t want to give the impression that we’re these caged animals waiting to break out,” Jensen says. “Yes, we do have more freedom in this band, but we don’t play aimlessly, we play intentionally, even though at times it is very ‘out.’ “What we’re after is an audience that will say, ‘Yeah, there’s another kind of energy up there, and yeah, we can dance to it, and yes, they are crazy . . . On a tune by Bill Laswell called “Work Song,” all instruments except bass, drums and Mitchell’s congas lay out while Jensen raps. “A man is standing in the doorway, it’s too dark to see his feet, but we can guess at his intentions and quite soon we’ll have to meet. “And he’ll say, ‘Give me all the money, hey, give me all the money, hey, give me all the money.” The music has virtually stopped, except for Jensen, with a sporty cap atop his 6'5", 250-pound frame, chanting, “Give me all the money.” The other musicians spontaneously take it up, “Give me all the money, hey, give me all the money,” and then the audience joins in, “Give me all the money, give me all the money.” • • • But how crazy is Le Bon? Although it may be classical American music now, we have to remember that when bebop was first introduced it was initially put down as “Chinese music” by older jazz players. But it provided the frantic kind of expression that the hippest members of the post-war generation craved in the late 1940s. “There has to be a future music,” Jensen points out, and in its turn Le Bon offers today an analogous kind of rawly crafted energy appropriate to a generation raised on rock and roll. Allen Ginsberg, whose aim in the late 1940s was to bring poetry closer to the spontaneous compositions of modern jazz, would approve of Le Bon, a band for whom “the future is now.” “I prefer the term ‘New Music’ to ‘New Wave,’ Mitchell says. “We’re not New Wave. Like it says in ‘All The Critics Love You,’ 'What are you looking at, punk? You ain’t as cool as me, because I’m from the old school.' The Sex Pistols were necessary for rock and roll, and there’s a certain energy there I like tapping in on. But in terms of musicianship, that's not where we’re coming from at all. “We’re bad. That’s our motto.” ■ Lynn Darroch writes about music for the Clinton St. Quarterly and edits the journal of the Oregon Jazz Society. brochures letterheads illustrations advertisements W I T H P R E S E N C E Cher Reed 342 5068: whdys. 345 0942: wknds.. eves. I N E U G E N E NOW YOU HAVE AN logos ’HOMEGROWN’ MEATS • homemade nitrate free sausages • open daily in Eugene at 4th & Blahin the Red Barn 345-3997 42 Clinton St. Quarterly