#18, SUMMER 2005




I had the pleasure to witness a live action by Air Conditioning at Boston's Nom D'Artiste space in Sept of 2004. They diligently hauled their gear up several flights of stairs before making themselves scarce over the course of five bands' opening sets. Around 2 am or so they took the stage, quickly cleansing the existential palette with their sheer magnitude. By the time they closed, the Fire Marshall had arrived and I was prepared to greet the world anew. Robert was kind enough to send me off with a copy of their LP “I'm in the mountains, I'll call you next year.” I recommend that anyone reading this make the effort to know more of this excellent band. The below interview took place via email over the past week or so. -- Chauncey Chaumpers July 19 2005

BLASTITUDE: What is on the immediate horizon for Air Conditioning?

ROBERT JURGENSEN: I need to figure out what the fuck is wrong with my guitar head that blew up in Washington DC. Then I'm gonna be angry and depressed about it for awhile. Eventually I will get it fixed and we'll sit around Jeff The Pigeon, or maybe in downtown Easton and wish that we had a full-time drummer. More optimistically, we'll do a bunch of recording and release a full length on Hospital asap.

MATT FRANCO: We tend to have equipment/money problems a lot - more than most people I know. It's horrible. It slows us down a lot. I started buying new speakers last year. One a month. I had to buy 5. When I was done buying them in March, they all blew up in mid April. Again. As far as releases are concerned, we have a full length we are recording/putting together for Hospital at the moment.

B: What about your upcoming work for Hospital will distinguish it from previous A/C offerings?

MF: As far as personnel, we will have a few different drummers on the record. I'm not entirely sure who at the moment. Doug, the original drummer, is already on there and our friend Josh from Pearls and Brass. I can mention them because we already have tracks with them recorded. Dom (Prurient) is to be coming down to do some recording as well as Brad from Pissed Jeans. All very talented dudes. So, you know, working with different people, you're going to get a different sound. What that is, I don't know. Doesn't matter. But putting it all together should be interesting.... jesus.
Yea, a few years back I was doing this thing where I would be this guy. As this guy, I'd go to avon parties, craft shows, soccer games. Talk to the mothers there - and ask to come home. We'd go wherever and I'd interview them. I'd ask them set questions and have them talk into the mics and so on. This was going to be used for a project I wanted to do about mom. Mother culture. When Air Conditioning had first started I had these tapes on me and I wanted to work on it with them. But it got put onto the back burner. Things happened. I lost interest until recently. These tapes are embarrassing. They are truly answering and I'm responding as honestly as I can as well. I feel a big sense of responsibility to these women, now that I have their voices. Anyway, that's what the record is about generally - domestics. Like there's a bench in my home, two sized pillows, Land's End. Shit like that. Dad. Poor dad.

RJ: Doug Polgardy has appeared on all of our releases thus far with the exceptions of one track on the newish Electric Human Project 7" and the tracks on the upcoming Hospital 100 box set. The upcoming Hospital release could be recorded with up to 6 different drummers. Most of what will distinguish this record from previous AC offerings, musically speaking, will come as a great surprise to ourselves. We'll have to wait and see. I guess it should be mentioned that we are beginning the recording of this project with a theme in mind ahead of time, as opposed to past recordings where we sort of just took the sum of its parts and tied things together at the end.
Franco mentioned his previous groundwork for the release. I would also like to mention the lifestyle of cheating truckdrivers and real life "Desperate Housewives." A tease of the subject matter exists in a track called "Unborn Widow," a track on the Hospitall 100 cassette.

B: You guys just got back from a tour. Can you report to us on the state of America's youth?

RJ: The latest tour was a 9 day deal down to the mid-south and back. Pissed Jeans had booked most of this one a couple of months before hand. Some dates fell through at the last minute, but were miraculously rebooked. As is our trademark, we did have to cancel a couple of dates due to van trauma. I think we are giving up on playing Lexington, KY. This was the third time we were unable to play there for one reason or another. If we do play it'll be a last minute unannounced thing at the Knight Inn. I stayed there once and the sweetest lesbian couple in the room next door got me real stoned and gave me their straight porn periodicals. We watched a bit of a football game and they explained in detail the phenomenon of cuckold relationships. Both of those ladies were there long term. They were both on disabiliity and were screwed over by their landlord. One of them had a double digit number of concussions from falling off horses. Really, everyone in Lexington is awesome, whether it be noisers OR disabled lesbians. I'd play there in a heartbeat. Someday. Also missed Nashville which was perhaps the date I was looking forward to the most. The bartender at the Warehouse Next Door in DC dispensed the most amazing rum shots. It was so good to be alive that night. Sucked that Franco didn't get sucked by a marine at the Eagle though. I did the night lurker gimmick in DC that night, walking and riding busses for 7 hours. I love that shit so much. I still enjoy the ABE prowl, but it's certainly nice to do it elsewhere... No, our breakdown had nothing to do with vegetable oil. Dave Rosenstraus saved our whole gang a few hundred bucks with his hippie ways... Most of the youth
I meant were either awesome or they sucked.

MF: There was plenty of good people everywhere we went. Things just seem bored in some places. I like touring. I do. But I love where I live. Allentown is such a depressed area. The valley keeps it all in. The only time I see any bands or projects anymore is when I'm playing a show or if it's at the Pigeon. Other than that I usually never go out to see anything. It's an odd mix here. I don't know what happened but when we started the Pigeon 2 years ago, there was never this much reaction coming from kids here. Now it's at the point where it's total mayhem. It's good. But there's definitely a line you can see where it's that kind of mayhem that's going to bring the Pigeon down. Eventually. Probably better to stop it. But I don't think we're going to. The people here at shows are great. I don't even know more than half of them, but it's just all out energy. Like what I thought punk rock shows should be. It's what I like. If you do too. Join in. If not. Stand back and enjoy or go away. Its ok. But now - I
remember when I was little. I would have to go to church with my mom and dad every Sunday. I would concentrate on what the priest was saying and his mouth. And I remember one day I swear I could predict what words were going to come out of his mouth. From then on it got easier to do - with anyone I'd watch on a regular basis. If you listen hard enough to something or someone. And watch. You can fool yourself into believing this. I try to separate myself from all that. Fake pretension. Funny clothes. Different contact colors. You know. I could just be thinking I'm seeing all this.

B: What sets AC apart from the pack? Do you have an unique philosophy regarding music and performance?

RJ: I should probably ask for a clear definition of “the pack.” We do have friends/allies involved with music dotted around the country/world, but when it comes to playing in Air Conditioning, whether recorded or live, it has always been about the two or three of us making the music we make as a result of what we are feeling at that moment. Some outside musical influence will always occur I suppose, and I won't deny certain musical influences, but I am probably not familiar enough with “the pack” to answer this question “properly.” Personally, I enjoy a lot of harsh noise and power electronics - Ramirez/Black Leather Jesus and related, Incapacitants, Sutcliffe Jugend, Prurient, Con-Dom, Sickness, etc… off the top of my head. All the nasty boys. It may not be such an obvious thing in a lot of AC recordings thus far, but I feel it every single time I take the stage with this band, or at least on the good nights. I also enjoy a good bit of black metal, scum rock and techno. I'd like to think
that Krieg, Godflesh, 7 Minutes of Nausea and Candee Jay are a part of “the pack.” They all have a bit to do with the music I make… To me, making this music is about the disappointment and the let down of the every day. It's a loved one dying in your arms and not really knowing if you have arms to die in, the war and peace of physical isolation, and reliving the joys of the past - humming that Seals & Croft beautiful bullshit, “We may never pass this way again,” as you descend from the mountains into the lights of the megalopolis and it ALL closes in around you. It's the surrender to addiction. But man, those moments before the disappointment, the moments laughing with your best buds
while they give a cat an orgasm or whatever, sliding out of control on unplowed Quebec roadways, and those seconds of joy before regret, are what I live for… I'm not saying we will never do otherwise, but I definitely love the improvisational aspect of it all. It's just like riding on a ship through the violent Bering Sea. Some nights the ship will tip over and you drown, and some nights you keep riding and riding and make it to the shore. Then when you make it to the shore, a team of skunks show up to lick the velvety head of your cock. However, on many nights the skunks turn around and spray their disgusting stink all over you. The agony. The ecstasy… I still consider Air Conditioning a punk band. It seems a lot of “real punks” can't stand the noise and improvising makes you “not a real band.” Likewise, a lot of noisers can't handle the drums and the fact that we've released a couple of records on “punk” labels. “Fuck em, fuck em, fuck em, fuck em, fuck em all, I shot my balls off in the hall.” - Sheep Squeeze

MF: The pack. There are some little cliques that make up this pack. I can't relate to a lot of this stuff. I don't understand and I just don't care enough. I pretty much just listen to my friend's music, or music from people I've met playing a show or from the Pigeon. Pearls and Brass, New Flesh, Pissed Jeans, Mr Thirsty, Ryan - stuff I can relate to
because I know these people on some personal level. I can see them saying these things they're singing about or whatever. I guess this is just another clique or smaller pack now that I think about it. But I know I have great friends in other places of the country that I can go to and feel welcome. I don't have much of a philosophy towards performance. Some days I see something and react horribly to it. I can't get it off my mind. I was just telling Robert the other day about the digust I feel when seeing elderly women order rare steaks. They always order them this way. I feel this bore and anger come over me - it's weakening. I can't really plan that out ahead of time. You put that down and you show that. You can see these things in people's eyes anymore. I can plan a skeleton for the sound, but to fill it in is just what comes out through sound and action. I wonder - I'm obsessed with genuiness. Or what I can perceive to be that. Some people are amazing and truly are reacting without any thought as to the others in the room. At least
that's what it seems like. Be selfish. I'd rather see it and hear it. I already know what I'm like.

B: Do you view yourselves as artists? What brought you to sound as a medium? Do other mediums influence your approach to working with sound?

MF: I work in a few mediums, but sound would be my main one at this point in my life. I enjoy linguistics. Also photographs, letters, objects I find in the street. I don't know why. I've made some videos. I work with a lot of things. I collect bells. Pressing flowers/recently insects - head-made letters, hair locks, drawing, thighs, scarring, books. I'll make one sometimes. These things do all influence how Air Conditioning sounds for me. I tend to think visually when I'm trying to make a sound...so this is what I can come back to.

RJ: I consider myself an artist as opposed to a resort salesman or whatever job I'm working that week, but any ham and egger with an EtchASketch can call themselves an artist too. I do a good bit of writing, take photos, have done some video stuff, and in the past year have started to have a bit of fun with spray paint in the dark, etc... They may or may not influence sound. It's all situational, although a valid link can be made more often than not. Sometimes I love to assume other identities and see what kind of fun comes from it.

B: What needs to change?

RJ: This question is quadruple pediatric hepatitis. It would take 1100 years or so to serve up a complete answer. I'll keep it brief.
       Pertaining to Air Conditioning - We'd really love a drummer who'd want to play/record on a weekly basis and do some pretty insane touring. If you think you'd be up for trying it out, get your ass in touch.
       I'd also love to see kayfabe and a potent territorial structure make a return to professional wrestling.

       I'd like to see Deadly Orifice become involved in politics as he feels he should, greater availability of video for individuals with very discriminating paraphilias, and another World Series win for the Phillies.

MF: The quality of the "adult" nowadays needs to change. I am always surprised, as I get older, as to how most adults I come across really act. I also need to stop repeating myself. I got a fractured rib this morning.

--Soft Folds CS
--I'm in the Mountains, I'll Call You Next Year LP (White Denim)
--Big Balls split 7" with Carpenter Ant (Torn Tendons/Peel Back the Sky)
--Weakness CD (Level-Plane)
--"All Aboa/Snake Conveyor" comp track on SLEEP TIGHT (Under a Blanket of Psych) NO. 2 (Easy Subculture)
--Siezed Barrels of Ephedrine 7" on White Denim/White Tapes
--"Catneck"/"Frustrating Ice Princess" 7" picture disc (Electric Human Project)