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TODAY

Wednesday, June 28

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Airbags

Disclexington Productions originated as the record producing arm of the Houston-based underground rock group, de Schmog. The name Lexington comes from the street where the band practiced. The residential street butted up to a freeway and so the rent was cheap. This brought bands, artists and other bohemians to Lexington and for several years there was a great community spirit of creativity. Disclexington is now based on Chicago's Southside in the Heart of Chicago neighborhood.

Disclexington has recently released Ed, an eight- band compilation that includes the music of Bob Taylor, Brillo, Broadtosser, churchbus, Hotel Brotherhood, New Town Drunks (from Chapel Hill, NC), the C*nts, and Urban Djin (see my interview with Urban in the archives). This poignant and engaging compilation firmly indicates that Disclexington Productions has a promising and important future. In fact, this year Disclexington plans to release new albums by churchbus, New Town Drunks, THE LATEST and Bright Men of Learning, as well as re-release some work of de Schmog, including the rock opera de Schmog Fairy Tale. Visit Kilian Sweeney's label at disclexington.com to listen to samples and to purchase Ed.

Q: To put out a compilation as a first release seems to me to work as a statement: this is the framework within which this label will draw and hone its inspiration. When initially soliciting participation from such a wide cast of talent, did you suspect that they would flow together? Or has the flow of Ed come as a surprise?

Sweeney: I hope it flows. As the producer I am too biased to tell, but I am always looking for flow and continuity in life. Yes, I think it flows amazingly.

The project came together in stages. It is 8 bucks for eight bands recorded on an 8-Track (not one of those old stereo 8-tracks but a half-inch analog tape machine). The 8-Track machine was sort of a gift from Ed Skinny Horse who had some kind of personal revelation, and up and moved to Cambodia. He gave Snake all his gear and we decided it had to be put to use. We got an 8-Track expert to help show us how to use the darn thing. That was Kris Poulin, a terrific engineer who has worked on lots of great Chicago projects including Devin Davis' Lonely People of the World Unite. He also plays in the band Love Story in Blood Red. Anyway, we started recording our band churchbus, but I thought that to get really intimate with the gear we had to record some other bands — you know, meet some new challenges. So it just appeared to be clever to do eight bands. Somewhere along the way, after recording three bands and hearing how good it was, I decided I should release it.

It is not actually the first Disclexington release, but it is the first in probably 12 years and before Disclexington was based in Houston. Now I'm in Chicago's Heart of Italy neighborhood on the South Side. About 15 years ago Disclexington put out an album called Ed, which was named after a guy in Houston who was really generous to my band at the time. So the name of this album and the reason for the name is sort of an inside joke for me that I'm sharing with you. It also speaks to the idea of "what comes around goes around" like the way the actual image of the number eight does: 8. Ed-Ed. Also it is the way the reel of tape looks while on an 8-track machine... I could go on and on.

Q: Compilations always remind me of the cinema, and Disclexington's is no different. In my imagination there's a movie described by Ed (a bit sideways, but not without a cool pathos — a sort of Trees Lounge, but only set in Canaryville with Buscemi's character being a failed crossword puzzle constructor rather than an unemployed mechanic, and with a different name: "Trunks Saloon.") Can you describe the "movie" that's showing in your head when you're listening to Ed?

Sweeney: I'd like to think it is a movie about Ed Skinny Horse. His life seems really interesting to me. But he might not like it. In fact, I think he is a little embarrassed by this whole thing as it is.

This question reminds me of how the cover art came about. I asked Kathleen Judge to do the cover art for this record because she is a terrific local artist who actually knows Ed and most of the local bands on this record. When I ask an artist to do work I don't like to give them ideas because I respect their creativity. But in this case I did throw an idea at her. I told her that none of us really knows what Ed is doing in Cambodia and we haven't seen any pictures, so maybe she could imagine what Ed is doing, like in a voyeuristic way. Well, thankfully she didn't listen to me and came up with something really special on her own. She's great. She's done terrific work for Oscar Brown Jr., Neko Case and many others, so I'm so honored to have her work on the cover. She also has two pieces up at the Chicago History Museum right now. I just feel honored. I know I got off course there, but what the hell.

Q: I've known actors who despise hanging out with other actors; writers and poets who would rather slash their eyeballs with a razor blade than attend a reading. I've even known a few artists who... well, they are very lonely people today. But I have yet to meet a songwriter who does not genuinely enjoy the company of fellow songwriters (I'm opposing songwriters to musicians here). What do you think it is that binds songwriters so strongly?

Sweeney: I don't know if that's entirely true. But maybe songwriters are a bit more extroverted than writers and poets and that ilk just by the fact that they often go for the immediate thrill of public affection. Bands can be really competitive. That's actually one of the reasons I wanted to put this out, sort of get a community feel for the project. It is something the South Side could be proud of because a lot of these artists are from the South Side, or have ties to the South Side, and in fact it was recorded over by there.

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About the Author(s)

John Hospodka is a life-long Chicagoan, and today lives with his wife in Bridgeport. He does not profess to be an expert in anything; he's just a big fan of the arts and is eager to make more sense of them. Direct comments or suggestions for interviews to tqf@gapersblock.com.

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