The elusive, listenable didj: Local didjeridoo player and live electronic-music performer John Vorus has announced plans to release a new solo effort under the guidance of Juno Award-winning producer and ambient-music legend Steve Roach. The currently untitled album is slated for release in late spring. (The Juno is the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy.)
Q & A with Brian Flik
If you're fortunate enough to catch Brian Flik in a reflective mood, perhaps cooling off at a local bar with his white Stetson cowboy hat towering atop his massive and heavily tattooed frame, a cigarette in one hand and most likely a beer in the other, you should take the chance to ask him about his music. The 28-year-old ex-punk-rocker-turned-country-singer/songwriter recently relocated to Asheville from Grand Rapids, Mich., and in his short time in the area, Flik has become a regular at many local open mics, making his presence known with twanged-up versions of Misfits songs, Nirvana-style Leadbelly covers and his own bitingly clever original songs.
Random Acts caught up with Flik late last month for a few words about punk rock, country music and explicit lyrics.
Mountain Xpress: Tell me about your first experiences with music.
Brian Flik: For years, I listened to a lot of punk rock and whatnot, Misfits records and Minor Threat. I played in a band in Grand Rapids, where I'm from. We never played gigs; we just kind of played around ... a lot of screaming [into] microphones and playing loud guitars. I just kind of got bored with it.
MX: Is that when you started getting interested in country music?
BF: Essentially. It's all the same stuff. It's all the same three chords; it's just slowed down, you know? Country music is just punk rock you can grow old with. It's all about drinking and getting wasted. There's a lot of political stuff in country music, just like in punk rock. It's the exact same thing as far as I'm concerned. Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings and all those guys were all outlaws. [They were] getting in trouble, and saying, "F••k the record industry," and putting out their own stuff. I just bought an acoustic guitar and a Merle Haggard CD and went from there. That was about two years ago.
MX: Do you consider yourself to be a country musician?
BF: I've always had a taste for country music. I don't know ... I almost don't want to say that I'm a country musician.
MX: What do you consider yourself, then?
BF: I'm a guy that tries to write some songs [laughs]. I'd like to think that sticks, you know? I do it all right, I guess.
MX: When I first heard you play, it was at one of the local open mics. Are you still playing that circuit?
BF: I'm still doing the open mics. It's kind of neat how things are just kind of working out. I'm hoping to play some real gigs pretty soon.
MX: One of the first things you did upon coming to town was to record a four-song demo CD. Tell me about that.
BF: [It was] like a month ago. I recorded it up at Onion Studios with Paul Conrad. When I came into town, I had a little bit of money, so I spent a little bit of it recording some songs. It's the only thing I've recorded, really. I've got all kinds of tapes I've done - four-track stuff -- that's not country at all; it's just weirdness with drum machines and whatnot.
MX: The demo is mostly your own songs, right?
BF: One [track] is a Waylon Jennings song, "Lowdown Freedom."
MX: The one song on the demo that really stands out is "I'm Trying Not to Love You," which has become known as ...
BF: As the "his d••k in your mouth" [song].
MX: Tell me about that song.
BF: It's a true story. I think a lot of guys, when they go through heartbreak, when they lose their girlfriends, they think about that. They think, "Aw, man, she's kissing some new guy, and it's bumming me out." I didn't write it to be funny so much. Kind of a little bit tongue-in-cheek, but there is just a truth there -- I'm trying not to think about you, but all I can think about is you with this guy. It's personal, yeah.
MX: Why did you start playing your solo acoustic show?
BF: Part of it is because it's kind of hard to lug an amp and an electric guitar all over the place. It's just been in the last two years, since I bought an acoustic guitar, that I started writing songs where you could hear the words. I'm writing songs that mean something.
MX: How have you found the local music scene in town?
BF: I'd always heard that there was a lot of stuff going on here in Asheville, but I didn't come here with the intention of ... "making it big." I just wanted to get out of Michigan. It's about what I expected.
MX: Ultimately, what is it that you want out of playing music?
BF: I want to live cheaply. I want to make a little bit of money, enough to support myself and drink cheap beer. As long as I can do it playing music ... I'm not looking to be on the TV or anything. I just want to be myself, have a place to live and play music.