Ultra-eczema started off initially as a “super bad crust punk fanzine”, how and why did it mutate into its present form? (I quite like “super bad crust”)
it just changed all the time like myself. today i might feel like wearing a white costume and go to a fancy dinner with some jocks, tomorow i go hang with the crustie crew from hiatus in liege and shoot some dope, the day after i might be at a horrible techno party flashing my schwung to a 18 year old girl with braces, the day after that day i could shave a mowhawk and aply for a job at the postoffice, the day after that day i might protest against new taxes at the groenplaats in antwerp. i dont realy know what to say, i just kept the same name since the first diy publication i made. i think i still like almost everything i ever liked in my life.
in the beginning i did ultra eczema as a fanzine and also had a tape label called tyfus tapes, i released a few grind-crust-punk-sludge tapes, and without the bands realy knowing i added retarded samples in between the songs.. those tapes were of very very poor quality and had gross cut and paste artwork and were usually benefit tapes for some anti rascist groups or anti-police brutality groups.. i think i always forgot to donate the money in the end cos it was never enough to make a serious donation, i sold those tapes for 2 bucks or something.
I can totally imagine an Ultra Eczema release (probably the Wolf Eyes- Guillotine Keys 12”) released in a gore drenched package of membranes and veins...if money was no object what would be your ideal way to package a record and on what format if not vinyl?
if money was no object i would make 3 baby's, signed and handnumbered. all their sounds will be recorded non stop and every sound will apear on vinyl packed in a diper, on brown vinyl. if i had the time to rase them, i would only sing to them, no talking just singing.
What’s your favourite album cover/packaging of all time?
the merzbow car
I know, for me at least, your illustrations really manage to capture the craziness of the music they sometimes package (the Wolf Eyes 12” and Fat Worm of Error 7” being two good examples). I was wondering what relation music plays to your art, what do you listen to whilst working? Are you reacting to the sounds or is that just what comes out of your skull naturally?!
when i invite someone to do a record on ultra eczema i always have a visual feeling with the band/person from before, i either like their stuff so much that i wanne design something for them or i just get realy inspired by listening to them, also, getting along with the people i am releasing stuff by is very important, i never wanne release something by people that i dont have a perfect vibe with, although it's hard to realy know people from other countries.music has always been an extremely big influence on my work. in fact i hardly know anything about art history in a visual way, which is annoying when i have an exhibition in a gallery, most people that are intrested in contemporary art are not intrested in an underground music scene, they usually start talking to me about artists i remind them off that i never heard about, and on the contarary i could start going on about brinkman, olson, crama, dylan nyoukis, sven balslev, maya miller etc.. and they would also never have heard of them. its' unfortunate it's so seperate.
You draw and you make music. Are you trying to articulate different things with each or are they both means to expressing the same idea/feelings?
i just wanne have fun realy, and i can't sit still for one second, i have to be doing shit all the time, either making music, a radioshow, drawings, painting, clothes, anything, i would go nuts if i can't do these things anymore. i need to do different things with different people all the time to stay siked!
also i dont realy know what kind of feelings i express, it's going to fast, if i re-read your question i can seriously not tell u why i do the things i do, i just do them, and its very hard to talk about them, it's even more horrrible when other people think they know what you're expressing, like when people say "his work is a critic on society" or something, i guess in a far out way it's true, i am pissed but at the same time i think it's important to make fun of everything including the people u love and yourself, the worst is when people take my work serious and dont see the joke. the things that you can't make fun off are the funiest. and i hate that i also have a serious site, my deepest wish is that photoshop erases my own seriousness.
How did you come across Edmond De Deyster’s works? I understand his family didn’t even know of his musical activities until late on, what do they think now of your reissues and this upsurge of interest in him?
i came across his work thru a friend who works with elder people, a guy that is intrested in wierd music since a long time. his assistant is the sister of edmond's ex wife, she was the only one that stayed in touch with him until his death or a little bit before. she emptied his house when he died and i think even cleaned there for a while. it's strange cos his ex wife doesnt want to have anything to do with this project and with edmond in general, it's still unclear to me why that is but i am not in a position where i wanne be to curious.the sister is a realy sweet woman that is super enthausiastic about this, but she completely doesnt understand that his music is very valueable and that it's not just turning some knobs, she has absolutely no interest in his music, and i think it was sort of the vibe during his life time, when people knew he was making music he never got atention for it. it also stucks me that he made this kinda stuff in such an early state while the only records he owned when he died were left were some famous rock things like led zepelin or the doors, the beatles, stuff like that.still it's possible that he got weirder synth records earlier on but maybe sold them to pay for his heroin adiction. the sister doesnt realy tell me a lot of stories about these things as she is of course very sad about it, but i am going there now every few weeks to check the tape archive.she was realy happy with how the first one looked and I might interview her soon about him personally.
I’ve read that the Bobby Columbo 7” is your favourite Ultra Eczema release to date? Is he a well known figure in Belgium and how did you convince him to record for Ultra Eczema?
when i released it, it was definatly my fave release, but i actually say this about all ultra eczema releases, i think it's the best feeling when a record arrives, you put it on and you scream "this is the best ever!!" it should be like this with every release, it's a sort of criterium for my releases, if i dont think its the best ever, i dont wanne do it! bobby colombo is a friend of mine since some years and is also known as peter de ceulaer, he is a visual artist, a carnivore, a radiomaker and a musician, he made a bunch of film soundtracks, music for theatre plays, made music in the past with sandy neis of the hybrids and does all the music and soundwork for a satirical radioshow at radio centraal in antwerp with his wife and his brother called colunst, he also plays in spacecactus with daniel renders (aka cassis cornuta) and with ludwig van hove in BOB AND LOU. again these are people that never released anything on their own, they hardly played live but they have the best archive of weird music and satirical plays.
There seems to be a real upsurge of interest in “outsider art” at the moment, both musically and artistically. You’ve released records by Edmond De Deyster, Ludo Mich, Bobby Columbo and even a teenage Felix Kubin! They all seem to have been working outside the conventional music industry, what is it that attracts you to such artists, is there a common thread running between them? I guess a lot of people would regard your art and label as quite out there!
hmm, i think all those people you mention are all completely different and very special people with a very own style of doing what they're doing!! it's important that this gets released otherwise noone else is gonne do it and it's fucking brilliant, edmond de deyster made this music without telling anyone for years, so sad on one hand, but brilliant!. i am intrested in how people organise themselves and what they do without giving in, completely believing and what they do and especially doing it without any finacial posibility's, not being part of a scene but still doing it without the right friends to support you. of course it's nothing new, there always have been people labeled as "weirdo's" because they look different, make different music or sounds, make different art and are not walking the line. i still get gooze bums when i see belgian sixtees artist/fashion designer (and ludo mich' first wife) ANN SALENS yell "there's nothing worse then being normal", i dont think thats exactly true, but i love how extreme toughts make people opionated or even angry about other people that totally believe in what they do. and of course it's funny how the conventional music industry is almost always too late. good things for me usually come out of places without cash.
The fluorescent colours and mad, jagged lines of the work are quite violent- I can imagine my head exploding and fluids shooting from various orifices if exposed to them for too long…what kind of reaction do you want your art to provoke? Is it deliberately confrontational?
i am realy happy when someone likes what i do but i like it a lot as well if it makes someone mad or puking or crying. someone from the dole office was once treatening me and said bad things will happen to me if i draw these things and that i will never find a job, someone else spit on a drawing at an exhibition, the police took away a big print at an exhibtion, i just think when u do things in a way that people are able to see it you'll always have people loving it and a lot of people hating it, i get offended all the time, people that dont know me have horrible opinions about me, but there's also people that like it and either way is cool, i hope everyone is happy with their opinions. the nicest thing that ever happened concerning my drawings was when i was making a big painting and a little 8 year old boy was watching me for about 15 minutes, i lived at a square where a lot of kids played outside, the day after the same kid rings my doorbell and made an almost exact copy of the drawing on a little plate, he drew some nude junkie types with needles and big dicks all over it.. the kid was 8 years old and his mom was standing next to him realy proud. i was totally blown away by that.
There seems to be a lot of bodily fluids, pus, goo and gore in your work? Do like all that messy shit? What’s your favourite disease/injury that you have had so far?
my favorite disease must be aids, as you can spread it so easily over a whole scene.
What does the future hold for Ultra Eczema and Dennis Tyfus?
lp's coming soon by (or maybe by the time you read this they're out already) jessica rylan, enema syringe, greg kelley-alex neilson, burning star core, dylan nyoukis-dennis tyfus spilt lp, orphan fairytale lp, hatred lp, the parts lp, the rest of the edmond de deyster lps, a compilation book+cd+sticker+button, a shirt serie, recordcovers for leslie keffer, failing lights, lambsbread, jazzkammer, a colab exhibtion with vaast colson in september in antwerp, and hopefully some travelling too..
All pictures are copyright Dennis Tyfus www.ultraeczema.com
Here are some photos of the Magic Markers from ayear or two ago (when they were still a three piece). I used one of them for the front of Feral Debris issue one as it reminded me of Mudhoney's "Superfuzz Big Muff" album and that seemed important at the time. Obviously it was photocopied so the picture didn't come out all that well (which i liked) but here are the originals anyway;
Entering the double CD sound world of Nova Psychedelia is a daunting experience. Compiling the recorded output of Todd Tamanend Clark between 1975 and 1985, it’s a dense miasma of psychedelic emanations from Clark’s mind that takes in 1960s garage rock, the fluorescent pop art explosions of early Marvel comic books, and the brain wavering possibilities of the synthesizer and guitar. Clark’s lyrics are just as likely to take their cue from the B-movies that soaked his childhood, dystopian science-fiction, and his political convictions and Native American heritage. Like errant super-villains, William S. Burroughs and Cheetah Chrome make surprise guest appearances; but what makes the collection truly impressive is that, at two CDs, it’s still only a snapshot of Clark’s musical output, and in 2006, he’s still creating his own unique sound. I tracked him down and put some questions to him…
RH: What do you think kick-started your interest in rock and roll and music in general? The covers of Paul Revere And The Raiders and The Electric Prunes would suggest that early garage and psych might have provided a fertile hotbed for your imagination?!
TTC: I started out listening to my mother's Yma Sumac records as a child in the 1950s. (I was born in 1952.) Some of my early favorite singles were "Who Do You Love" by Bo Diddley and "I Put A Spell On You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins. I also liked movies with spooky theremins in their soundtracks and avant-garde jazz. Then in 1961, the song "Runaway" by Del Shannon just knocked me out with its proto-synthesizer solo. Both my maternal grandmother and a beautiful Mexican neighbor lady gave me free keyboard lessons, but it wasn't until Bob Dylan took psychedelic substances and went electric in 1965 that I went from just liking music to totally loving music. 1966 through 1968 were my major formative musical years.
RH: I’ve always thought there was a very close link between rock and roll and comic books - the costumes, sound effects, theatrical nature, team ups, heroes and villains. The liner notes to Nova Psychedelia make reference to your soundtrack and appearance at a comic convention as Brainiac 5… Just how much has comic book culture influenced your work? And what/who is your favourite comic/hero/artist ?
TTC: I started walking on my own to get comic books at the local confectionery store in my hometown of Greensboro, Pennsylvania, when I was six years old and in first grade in early 1959. The first books I started buying had Batman stories drawn by Dick Sprang, some with Green Arrow back-ups. Then I started to get into the Carmine Infantino characters like The Flash and Adam Strange and the Kirby monsters and the post-Kirby Challengers Of The Unknown. (I later obtained the early Kirby Challengers issues that I had missed.) I bought Fantastic Four number one on my ninth birthday on August 10, 1961, so I was pretty much there for the birth of the silver age of comic books. Like Jimi Hendrix, one of my favorite comic books was Turok, Son Of Stone, and I've been a long time collector of Doctor Strange ever since his first appearance in Strange Tales in 1963 and of The Doom Patrol since their first appearance in My Greatest Adventure that same year. In the modern age, some of my favorite comic books are Animal Man, Aztec Ace, Coyote, Green Arrow, Love And Rockets, Scout, and Swamp Thing. My all-time favorite artists are Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Neal Adams, and Timothy Truman. I buy a lot of the hardbound reprint editions in the Marvel Masterworks and DC Archives series, as well as the EC hardcovers.
RH: On the subject of heroes, it must have been quite nerve-wracking to meet and collaborate with William Burroughs. How did this come about?
TTC: Cheetah Chrome (the lead guitarist for The Dead Boys) obtained William Burroughs' phone number for me from Anita Pallenberg in early 1980. I eventually got up the nerve to dial it, and Bill was very courteous even though he was not much of a phone person. We began corresponding in writing with each other, and two years later I had a long song cycle published that included a passage from Burroughs' novel Nova Express with his permission. Eventually, these songs evolved into the lyrics for my 1984 album Into The Vision. While I was in the process of recording the album, Burroughs reminded me that he had already recorded that section during a spoken word project and said that he would be more than happy to let me overdub music to accompany it on my album. The original plan was for me to recite that passage myself along with my other vocals. It goes without saying that I was ecstatic to have Bill on my record.
RH: Again, the liner notes to Nova Psychedelia make reference to early inspirations: Micky Dolenz of The Monkees playing a Moog and The United States Of America’s first album. I was wondering what you found so attractive about these sounds as there is a very impressive list of synthesizers (ARPs and Moogs) that you have used in your recordings!
TTC: I'm a major collector of classic American synthesizers. Not just Moogs and ARPs, but also Oberheims, Prophets, E-mus, and Ensoniqs. I've been an endorsement artist for Moog for a while now. I also play their Etherwave Theremin, and I use their Ring Modulator on some of my guitar solos. All my vocoder vocals from the 1980s were done on a Moog. Certain great synthesizer sounds just give my mind an intense shamanic eargasm.
RH: Do you build/modify your own sound devices and synthesizers? If so, what kind of sounds are you trying to achieve that shop bought synthesizers can’t?
TTC: I don't physically build them, but I definitely modify their programming extensively. I erase many of their Eurocentric factory presets and replace them with Native American sounds, both traditional acoustic instruments and electronic representations of entheogenic experiences. Even my Johnson Millennium and Rocktron Taboo guitar amplifiers are programmable and have a hundred patches each that I designed.
RH: I’ve often found that science fiction enables me to take a good hard look at the actual world around me… actually pulling me out of my reality and then providing me with scenarios (however fantastical) that let me look at important questions and themes that I can take back with me when my feet touch the ground… I was wondering what your take on sci-fi was as you mix it up with very real political concerns in some of your tracks (I’m thinking of the references to Mumia Abu-Jamal and your Native American roots here ).
TTC: The science fiction author whose work I read the most often is Harlan Ellison. His infamous 1967 short story "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said The Ticktockman" serves well as the classic example of combining speculative fiction with social concerns. Some critics view certain novels by William Burroughs as an extreme branch of science fiction. I loved the early 1970s Dennis O'Neil relevance stories where Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Black Canary go off to search for the real America underneath the surface spin. The older I get, the more I find that I definitely have a preference for science fiction that is set in my North American homeland rather than in outer space.
RH: The press release for the compilation makes reference to "lost music" and the underground. I was wondering what your thoughts were on this… whether you considered your music too difficult for the "mainstream" to swallow, and whether there was any bitterness (if that’s the right word) that your work hasn’t had more recognition?
TTC: Well, some days I'm more bitter than others, and I'm not going to pretend otherwise. I never expected to be as big as The Beach Boys or The Lovin' Spoonful, but I sincerely hoped to function on a level similar to that of Sun Ra or Frank Zappa. I've seen some progress towards that goal, especially in the last year, but here I am in my fifties just now getting to where I should have been in my twenties. Yes, my music is complex, dissonant, and difficult, and most decidedly noncommercial, but there is still surely some audience for it, had I been given better distribution and advertising in earlier decades.
RH: Classic science-fiction and horror films also seem to have had some influence on your subject matter and sounds, I was wondering if there were any specific films that you remember really impressing your young mind? What’s your opinion of the current state of the industry? There seems to be an upsurge in science fiction and horror films, but I’m hard pushed to name one that has really blown me away of late…
TTC: My favorite science fiction films from my childhood are Creature From The Black Lagoon, Forbidden Planet, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, It Came From Outer Space, Kronos, The Day The Earth Stood Still, and The Flame Barrier. I also watched The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits religiously. Today, I'm mostly into cinema that includes Native American content.
RH: I always think that the parts of our culture that are often regarded as "trashy" and disposable (comics, b-movies, rock and roll) reveal just as much, if not more, about us than "high brow art". What’s your take on this? I know I’d much rather live in a world populated by Batman and The Thirteenth Floor Elevators…
TTC: Rock and roll and comic books are each the black sheep of their respective fields of endeavor. Personally, I take great delight in erasing the demarcation lines between high brow and low brow art forms. I'm equally at home with an orchestral composition by Silvestre Revueltas and a garage psych song by The Music Machine. I can enjoy a cutting edge work of cinematic art by David Lynch or a low-budget science fiction film by Roger Corman. I can go from pouring over an involved philosophical treatise by Henry David Thoreau to scanning a quirky little Ant-Man story by Stan Lee without batting an eye.
RH: You’ve obviously been very prolific since the period encapsulated in Nova Psychedelia. As a newcomer to your work, what albums would you recommend that I start with?
TTC: The four discs of my three instrumental albums form an unconventional but interlocking dark electronic symphony. Owls In Obsidian (2000) looks at the pre-material world spiritual template of Turtle Island (North America) as a giant medicine wheel into which one enters in the south and travels clockwise around the sacred circle encountering spiritual concepts from various autochthonal cultures, each represented by a species of owl indigenous to that bioregion. Staff, Mask, Rattle (2002: two discs) begins with the big bang creating the material universe and then proceeds to tell the Native American history of the northeastern woodlands up to and including the death of the great Onodowaga orator Sagoyewatha (Red Jacket) in 1830. Monongahela Riverrun (2004) begins at the source of the Monongahela River in Fairmont, West Virginia, and travels one hundred twenty-nine miles through towns that the colonial invaders built, feeling the melancholy displacement of the indigenous inhabitants, until reaching the end of the river in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
RH: Your forthcoming Dancing Through The Side Worlds is also a massive 4CDs long! What does this release hold in store for listeners, and is there some sort of concept running through the album?
TTC: It's an autobiography of my life so far, but it's told in poetry and song instead of prose. It begins somewhat before my birth, showing what the practice of manifest destiny by the occupying colonial regime had done to the aboriginal American cultures by the middle of the twentieth century. Then I tell the major events of my life: unexpected conception (My mother was severely epileptic and never supposed to have children.), caesarean birth, precocious childhood development, repressive public school experiences, the death of my maternal grandparents who practically raised me, moving to San Francisco and later Cleveland, my marriages and divorces, the births of my six progeny, my native rights activism, etc. The lyrics are extremely surrealistic and psychedelic, as is the music. Some of the songs are radically different rewrites of earlier material and are finally placed in their proper overall context and have much better production.
But Dancing Through The Side Worlds won't be released until 2008 , and right now, I'm working on a new double disc concept album entitled Iron Alphabet for late 2006 release. It contains twenty-six original poems synchronized to electronic/industrial music. There is a poem for each letter of the dominant Eurocentric alphabet. The poems all fit together into one surrealistic narrative that first laments the imprisonment of the Native American mind by means of colonially forced English linguistics that severely limit the ability to think in indigenous concepts and then celebrates the deprogramming and subsequent liberation that cultural preservationists eventually achieve.
RH: What would you like to achieve with your music in the future? Do you think that this renewed interest in your work will drive you to create more and wilder visions?
TTC: All of my twenty-first century albums on Primal Pulse fit together into one overall conceptual project in the order of release. My twentieth century music that's collected on Nova Psychedelia was released by Karl Ikola on Anopheles as an effort at historical preservation, which is the mission of his label. It's an interesting development that the recordings I made during the 1970s and 1980s are now receiving significant internet and college radio airplay. I was already planning on resuming the making of music with vocals anyway, so it seems that things have come full circle. And, yes, I will continue to push the cutting edge envelope as hard as I possibly can.
I have all of about three copies of the Fossils- to a reason cd-r left so email me quick if you'd like one! £3ppd in the UK...
"New Fossils cd-r on Feral Recordings, "To a Reason". 6 tracks, 43 minutes, 24 copies all in individually handmade covers that boast some Steve Jackson/Dungeons and Dragons styled art. With releases on Fag Tapes and Arbor i guess you must know the Fossils sound by now ("Contorted PCP tones, metal percussion and zaps of electroconvulsive brain-fry" say Volcanic Tongue), the thing about this release is just how damned intimate it sounds. It's as if someone has locked David in your basement and he's clambering amongst the water pipes (scalded by red hot steam) moaning pitifully to himself as he peers through cracks in the floorboards listening to fragments of conversation and blasts of tv static."
Issue two of Feral Debris includes interviews with one man destructo units Carlos Giffoni and Kylie Minoise, Half Japanese main man Jad Fair, Esquilax, artist Simen Johan and Gary Wilson (creator of 1977’s weirdest LP “You think you really know me”) as well comics from the Sound Of Drowning , art from Dennis Tyfus, Sian Macfarlane and Eva Hertz amongst others and the usual reviews and articles.
The accompanying cd-r contains some smoking jams from; Throuroof (Ita) Family Battle Snake, Robedoor (US),Loveletters (US), Nackt Insecten, Wounded Knee, Altar of Flies (Swe) and Blue Sabbath Black Cheer (US).
It’s £3ppd in the UK (we’ve got paypal set up on the page) everywhere else get in touch for postage rates etc.