- September 13th, 2014
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By Chris Dylan Chris Dylan
How does a boy in his mid twentys from the Pacific Northwest fall in love with hip-hop? Heres one way.. –
I don’t exactly recall when it was that I gave my life to the hands of luck, but somewhere along the lines I decided that I would let the universe take me for a ride. Maybe it was when I moved out at 15. But by 18 I was hitch-hiking, staying on beaches for weeks, meeting up with lost friends and finding out that they’re squatting somewhere, at times drinking booze for dinner, working in commercial kitchens and walking out at the first sign of bad authority: this was all normal at the time. Summers in Colorado and winters in Washington for 3 years led me to relocate myself and my backpack to Colorado. Summer was an easy time traveling. 2 years later, I am on top of the world with a shitty 350 Econoline Van that I (of course) had to modify with shag carpet all around. This van was a real piece of crap. It was only in the northwestern part of Colorado (heading towards Dinosour, Utah) that the automatic transmission decided that it either didn’t have a clutch or didn’t have a first gear…
Now, I was heading home. Why? To find some good musicians to make some classic PNW sounds with. If not that, then just to say “Hi” to everybody back home and head down the west coast looking for those musicians I was talking about. The music scene in Colorado had not fit my desire from the start. It was always a little too “Bro’s and Ho’s” for me, either that or complete wannabe indie rock pop pablum…
So, I wasn’t going to stop that van. It was way too full of priceless art pieces that needed new homes. I begin to tell myself that its only going to be a problem if I stop the van so if I don’t stop then we’re all good. I take the barren wastelands of Northeastern Utah and avoid the sight of another human until an entire gas tank is far too close to gone, at that point I am in Wyoming and able to breath again because I see a gas station. I am skipping over details of this trip for the reason that it doesn’t pertain to the subject of Dreamstate Theory. 3 stops and 3 days later I make it home to Bellingham, Washington. Thank you! The Wheel of Fortune has spun! Luck!
2 days later my van is beached in the county and I am downtown taking this picture. I don’t know these guys at all. Theyre just some random guys walking into the ice cream shop to me.
A month later the blonde guy is Tommy Couling and he’s my boss in a commercal kitchen and he’s not blonde anymore; he has a blue mohawk. My initial thought goes to “What character in SLC Punk is he?” Then I realized that he was obviously Steve-O. Later, we’re smoking in the alley and he tells me that he is in a band called Black Tommy and they just recorded a track called “Are You Having Fun Yet?” and he’s a rapper. He says “I just make one-liners and punchlines and string them together real fast. That’s what rappers do. Sometimes they don’t even relate but that doesn’t really matter.” 2 months later it is August 2012 and he is looking for a roommate and I am trying to move into a house that isn’t full of minors and college students so its perfect timing. I leave my lofty apartment and bring my 500 pound collection of paintings over to his house just in time to start laughing at how all the students have to go “BAK 2 $K00L.” We laugh and compose the image of the two of us showing up at the college and “turning ourselves in” as if they had a warrant for our arrest this whole time. Then we came up with a new name for the 2 bedroom house now that it had a new resident. We both instantly agree on ‘Narnia’ because “You don’t grow old in Narnia.”
Now, some of my earliest memories are of me climbing on bunk beds listening to 2pac, Coolio, Snoop Dogg and the like at age 4 or 5 but other than that my exposure to hip-hop music was so little that I didn’t know anybody who would ‘rap’ until I met Tommy. I have always thought Eminem was a really clever asshole, that 2pac was a real gangsta with real lyrics, Bone Thugs and Harmony are a bunch of thugs who love to harmonize, Snoop Dogg was always stoned and that Jay-Z and Kanye West were really, really famous…
Other than that I liked lines like “Purple clover, green hair lace, crimson hair across your face.” from Bob Dylan’s ‘Yer Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.’ Or, “Nobody asked me but here’s my advice: to a young man or woman who is living this life, in a world gone to hell where nobody’s sane, do not go quietly onto your grave” from Morphine’s ‘Do Not Go Quietly Onto Your Grave.’
What I loved about music was the lyrics. I have always had short patience with instrumental music presented as a finished product. Why isn’t somebody saying what they want to say if given the chance? Use your voice, I thought. When you sing you are not only just sending your ideas into orbit throughout this world but also disrobing the veil of identity that you are always attempting to hide behind. You find that you suprise yourself when you hear what your thoughts truly translate to sometimes as a lyricist. I had written over 50 folk songs on guitar (having been a traveler) by age 20 and some of the lyrics were metaphors that I can only now hardly understand. And, being a drummer to begin with I had been in fistfuls of punk/rock bands since the age of 14 and was never really interested in drumming for instrumental bands.
But, at this point I had been on the troubadour’s road of rock and roll for 6 or 7 years and it was getting old. Not only that, but Black Tommy needed a new drummer. Now, I would confidently say that being a drummer in a rock/rap band is the beggining to my real exposure to rap. Yeah, I listened to The Transplants and Rage Against the Machine and those are also rock/rap bands so this still wasn’t absolute hip-hop.
That next summer Black Tommy released an EP called ‘The Babysitter’s Club.’ This is the most ‘rap’ song that we wrote for The Babysitter’s Club, “Punk Rock Saved Our Thug Lives.” This was a common toast to either Hornitos or Bullet Bourbon at Narnia. Or just Ranier…
During the writing of The Babysitter’s Club I joke of how I should become a rapper and begin making silly rap songs out of sheer boredom, or something like that.
Late that summer Black Tommy’s mastermind, Tommy Couling, took to setting his sights on the road and booked a tour. Black Tommy played a release show/last show for the Babysitter’s Club and was no more. The 4 other members were too grounded to partake on a tour and Tommy left town under alias Tommy Tryzynski. Troubles on the road led to the tour falling short and Tommy was ‘Back in Bellingham’ again after a few weeks. Once the time came where we were smoking cigarettes on my roof he began to explain that his direction in music had changed. I liked the idea that he had. He said he wanted to take his rap back to his roots of hip-hop. Maybe make poppy as hell songs because let’s just face it – THEY’RE FUN!!
By this point I had taken my music in the direction of hip-hop for a little while and wanted to do the same thing. I had never been an MC but I have always been a writer and it took me a short time to realize that in many ways they are one and the same. Before a month or 2 went by I was rhyming to a beat. “Holy Shit! That’s me! On the microphone! That new MC!” Something happened here that changed my outlook on things in drastic ways. I began writing pages for hours at times. New songs. Not songs. Just words that sound good when they’re stuck right next to each other. I realized that I was speaking a new language. This new lyrical platform was a world of rhythm math and metaphors. That became what I understand the world of hip-hop as – One giant rhythmic metaphor.
Beyond that I have always loved the following things: The Tales of the Greeks and the Ancient Egyptians, Dungeons and Dragons, Poetry and Slam Poetry, Redheads, Blondes and Brunettes, $5 buy in games of pool, Toadstools and the movies Alice in Wonderland and The Matrix. (The first one)
I began to look at my lyrics through this veil of my own passions or what I like to refer to as my permanent imagination. By ‘permanent imagination’ I mean the part of an imagination that can be hard to change. There are things that can have permanent damage on ones imagination and that list is too long to list here. Let us just say that the things that you love or hate are also the things that can damage your imagination. Sometimes not in negative ways, but damage all the same. They have the potential to close your mind. So this time I made sure that it was the the things I loved (The Tales of the Greeks and the Ancient Egyptians, Dungeons and Dragons, Poetry and Slam Poetry, Redheads..) that came out of my pen when I took to the pen this time. I realized that with the lyrics that I was writing I could look beyond onto the thing that I niether love nor know: the world of dreams. So, I endorced this in my mind. I began to perfect the art of daydreaming, descretely writing songs in the middle of conversations with people. I was performing that kind of behavior that some people try to call insanity but without it songs like ‘Across the Universe’ wouldn’t exist. I begin to resent those who mock creative passion at this point. More than ever…
This, on top of reading The Book of Thoth and discovering the Dreamstate Theory through Aleister Crowley’s writing gave way to the coming of the Dreamstate Theory hip-hop group becoming a reality. (Aleister Crowley never mentions a ‘Dreamstate Theory’ but the Dreamstate Theory is my impression of his explanation of magic. See the previous blog for an explanation of the Dreamstate Theory.)
One thing I realized while writing this new material is that it mostly mattered to me that what I was going to put out in songs was what I wanted to say. Tommy Couling gave me the beats once he had decided that my ‘rap skillz’ were ‘ill’ enough and I wrote the greater part of this song while driving through the county in my car. Sometimes the greatest moments of your life can only happen alone, and I would say that that car ride was one of them. Then again I have to thank Tommy and Dave for the beat… and all the Redheads, Brunettes and Blondes out there…
Before that I had rapped a song called ‘Jessie’ that was about a dream that I had and a few other songs about real bad romance situations so with these new beats I decided that I would take a new perspective. Besides using content from dreams, I wanted to make sure that I was keeping to the idea of the Dreamstate Theory so I made the song “Treaty for an Incubus.” A song about a completely unrealistic situation, the idea is the same that I had explained earlier; that a rap is only made of rhythm math and metaphor. This song was when I decided that I actually could rap and also the point when I decided that I wanted to keep to the idea of rapping about unrealistic situations: again, the world of dreams. In this song I take on the guise of a lonely and bitter Incubus, born in Nessus, which for all of you who would like to know, is the 4th layer of Hell and is a barren and frozen eternal wasteland with occasional lavish dwellings that protect from the elements.
On top of that I wrote a song about how people should stop dreaming about negative things like captivity, failure and misunderstanding and just pass the mic to the muses ‘cuz they have passion and better things to make you dream about. Maybe it can be a fruitless concept but I have always believed the best way to change to world is to change to way you percieve it becuase, it really is always a matter of perception. I have also always been a fan of accepting great suffering as a part of life so the lyrics in this song are made to represent that idea.
Nowadays, I am listening to tracks I have never heard before by artists I didnt know existed more than ever and it is comforting to know that the culture of hip-hop goes so far. Freestyling is becoming a not only easier thing to me but a game that is dangerously fun. I think I’m addicted.
And thats how a boy in his mid twenty’s from the Pacific Northwest falls in love with hip-hop… With a little help from a midwest rapper named Tommy Couling and maybe some unmentioned Tarot Cards.. (Princesses of swords and cups, Art/Temperance and The Lovers, The Hermit and last but not least The Hanged Man.)
The Dreamstate Theory EP is available at Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Facebook. Check us out/like/follow. Seeing as how the group is a very new thing at this point, we will be finding a sound and uploading tracks regularly for listening. Enjoy!
I thought I’d try something different this week. Let’s talk about muses. Every artist has a few different levels of obsessive built in with the software. It was a great honor to find myself sitting forty yards or so directly in front of one of my greatest, Tori Amos, last Friday evening.
I’ve had a serious cult like devotion to Tori since 1992 when Little Earthquakes came out. It was such a different time for music then. That album destroyed barriers for me between classical music, pop, folk, confessional rock and more then that it felt real
This was at a time when the only females you ever saw wore very little and had pre-recorded vocals playing over the ghosts of tape recorders and phalanxes of cheese ball dancers.
I may have been to innocent to understand some of that record when I first bought it in Marquette at the mall with my best high school buddy Jeff Eby.
That album came out in tandem with the first run of Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” comics. Both are some of the best pieces of art created in the 20th century. I also find it interesting that they often cross reference each other, going as far as Amos being a model for a character in the comic book.
Life went on. “Under the Pink” I bought on a tape from a small music store in Marquette when i lived there as a student. “Boy’s from Pele” was the tape I played over and over in my first car heading out to visit friends when I lived with my parents after my life fell apart at 20.
So,it’s now 2014 and there she is! Leather pants and a long bright green gown. Standing crouched like a crouching Tiger, She yoga poses between the right hand Bossendorfer and the left hand keyboard.
Tori still has that shock of bright red hair, now wearing a series of special sexy librarian glasses.
It’s very much like seeing an old friend that you’ve been missing for 20 years. At first, I just found myself glad to be there in that space. Then, I found myself slightly worried that it could become awkward, I haven’t connected to everything she’s done, some of it went straight over my head.
But then, like with all real friends or imaginary ones, everything turned out beautiful.
“Precious Things,” makes me cry.
She does Thank You by Zepplin, She does “Thank U” by Alanis as a premiere and the hall rises to its feet. I am standing in church now, this has become a howling house of muse. The crowd of pink haired tattooed Raisen girls has risen. Some one is howling in the tones that only happen during great movements of the Holy Spirit.
Tori strikes her piano and slams the lid. She did that several times during the 22 song set, it jars me every time.
It also happened to be T’s 51 birthday party and the entire crowd sang at the encore, bringing out a cake alongside falling balloons and her daughter and father on stage.
It’s quite something to hear several thousand people sing an off key version of “Happy Birthday” while being led by Ms. Amos herself.
I last saw her and her troop of faeries dancing off the stage after hugging the Drag Queen in the front row , grabbing a birthday hat that fell on the stage. Amos, put the blue triangle on her head and skipped off.
It was quite a night. Very much like seeing an old friend that you know you will see again sometime soon.
For the drunk girl on my left side,here are the answers to the questions you kept yelling at me.
A. Yes, the opening band is very nice. I’m not quite sure they are as howlingly amazing as you think they are though.
B. That’s a B-Hammond organ, it’s not a harpsichord,. They are very different.
C. I’m glad I look like some one that would know the difference.
D. I’m not clapping with you on request. I will now pretend that my understanding of English is slightly limited.
Rock and roll music has had it’s fare share of outer space creatures. From David Bowie to Sun Ra, from GWAR to ?mark and the Mysterions. Call the men in black, because we just found some more E.T’s hiding in a secret compound near Ft.Myers.
The collective duo known as Future Lab Rats has been bashing away on the indie rock scene for a few years already. Watts plays bass and screams his transmissions to the humans he has sworn to protect. His partner, Larry the Alien, seems to have a much harder time hiding his true alien nature. Beginning with the fact that he appears to be a small crazy man in a trench coat with a tin foil hat. His beats are out of this world.
“We were exploring the musical universe, uncovered these songs, and decided to show all of you radical humans.”-Larry
Watts has even spawned several hybrid copies of his DNA and taken to being a father who spends a lot time watching cartoons and learning to be a Jedi Knight.
They are about to release a brand new full length album on Shepherd Boy Records that has been nearly a year in the making.
We mostly write instrumentals. That’s just what we’re in to. But, over time we like to branch out and explore new musical territories. Digital Disguise has a very unique sound to it. The songs are all so diverse, yet they still feel like they belong together. This album also feels more personal than in our previous vocal albums.”- Watts. It has been a pleasure to watch the duo rock the stage at Manna Reading Center and Venture Compound, melding EDM warped beats with funky slap bass from the mothership. The 1st song, “We Are” tells the story of our alter egos: Watts and Alien. But then, the next song, “Alive” is written about growing up, hanging out with good friends, and meeting the love of my life. The next song, “What to Do” is a song about how work can really drain your soul from your body, if you let it. Then, in a song called, “Rusty Eyes” I sing/scream about the true story of my brother getting rust in his eyeball, and the doctor having to use a grinder to get all the little flakes out. Later on, I become a madman. I just lose control sometimes. Which brings us to “Chaos”. “Grind” is a song dedicated to my love of skateboarding, and metal \,,/. “Horror Flicks” is a tale about terrifying, horrifying, disgusting, shit. Sometimes, I’m just in a dark mood and want to watch a good horror movie. And, I have always been a huge comic book fan as well as a Star Wars fanboy. Got the tattoos to prove it! Which brings me to my next song, “Sci-Fried Leg of Nuna”. Comic convention goers will love this one. And you don’t even have to wait in line! Hey, ever have that feeling that life just can’t get any worse… Well, we wrote a song about it. It was actually really easy to channel, “The endless pit”. “Hero Sandwich” is a song about a modest bum that just wants peace. And closing out the album, we have “Death in December”. A beautifully sad song about a guy who met his wife, had great kids, grew old, and has just overdosed with his wife. And now, they leave this world. Together. Forever.
Oh, and there’s some crazy sci-fi stuff too…: “World War Mermen”…. “Mad Genius”… Alien Baby’s…”- Watts
The new missive “Digital Disguise” will be released on 8-30.
Shepherd Boy Records has all of our albums up on the website. If you like/follow Future Lab Rats on facebook, then you’ll know as soon as the album hits this dimension. The album will also be posted on our bandcamp page: https://futurelabrats.bandcamp.com/
And, we just uploaded a new music video for the song, “Grind” to our youtube channel. We’ll also be releasing another video in September.
There are also plans for a late September release show at the Manna Reading Center. Stay tuned for more details.