DIY SPACES MRR COLUMN

On Total Control live in London – glimpses of immortality / the criminalisation of squatting

Useless limbs, warm eyes, burning laptop heat belly. Cocooned here from that late onset shocker unshocker of a winter that really shouldn’t have taken anyone by surprise. Nothing to say. Stare straight ahead, pretty used to wearing glasses now, pretty used to the smears from clumsy eating greasy fingered light trails always. With that in mind, a bad time to be trying to focus, but still. Perfectly still. Did you ever try and make a point and just make a diversion instead?  Cul de sac architect. Withering looks. No full sentences, no major plans, no natural light. Still a skipping strained voice preens the speakers, floppy hair says he says takes a something something just to get him outta bed. Don’t mention the riots. Stay inside your bedroom while this all blows over. General strike is right all right. Gold plated pension stiff upper lip take it on the chin for your kids and work til you’re 67 or dead. Suffice to say, Christmas might happen before you read this. Nothing much’ll change, you might be a little older, a little more fraught with your siblings, more aware of your parents’ mortality, creeping in here and there with a searched-for-but-unfound name of someone’s cousin’s son, or a badly hidden wince.  67 or dead. We all spill our guts.

***

The venue for the Total Control show I put on last night was a huge squatted office building which has been there for 8 years. It sits, bedraggled and incongrouous, a few steps from the city’s financial heartland. This is the second gig that’s ever happened there, the first being Inservibles, which we did last month. Existence through secrecy, a Polish guy who had doggedly begun attending my shows the previous year told me a little about the place he was living. Crammed between a huge silver and concrete monolith of serviced offices, and some other weird buildings, the place itself is made from red bricks, that look so very out of place. Google shows that the address was slated by the council for ‘Demolition of existing building and construction of a four-storey office building’ but that was in 2003 according to the document, and the owner now can’t even sell the place since the bottom fell out of the property development marking. Poor fuckin’ millionaire. As its ‘non-residential,’ the law which is about to come which criminalises squatting will not make felons out of my friends living there, but will undoubtedly result in a clamp down across the board, of course slap a £1500 fine and a year’s jail time on homeless people who do take shelter from the rain in one of Britain’s 930,000 empty residential buildings.  All space is occupied by the enemy. We are living under a permanent curfew. Not just the cops – the geometry.’

Everything tastes like you said it would. How many people will write about Total Control this month? Ears are still ringing from yesterday and another Big Takeover to be proud of I think, I hope. At best, at least, another hole poked in the devastating normalcy of the lie/live musak ‘experience’ of the bars and pubs you can keep, and the deadening futulity of a future that is coming, regardless. At worst, I was accidentally plugged into the clean channel when we played. Tone hell and the purgatory of ‘is this thing on?’ Who needs the clean channel? Pulled through.  Instead of sheeping and schlepping through the right bars at the right time, in the right costume, kids come to shakedown, deathdance, vibrate the bones they didn’t know they had, to these exploding febrile now songs, that sound like the past thought the future might. Skittish convulsions. Any which way, the presence of Australians in my peripheral vision/living room seems to make things work better when it comes to having fun, and I drank four coffees today. I’ll sacrifice solid shits for my guests, I’m that good a host. How many other people live the same life as me, or thereabouts, in a different city, a different life, society sucker priorities accidentally lining up, staring confused at the future for a second, a sensible voice piping up then silent, while you’re kickin’ over those right choices like stupid tombstones. To do what instead? Drunk or sober, committed to both/either/neither, living it, and feverishly making and doing, in the secret hope of adding up your endeavours to some prime number that allows you to cheat death in a song someone might think back to after you’re gone. This is the sweetness of productivity, punks sure that maybe we can stop time with this shit, just for a few seconds, to register your existence as a true thing that happened, that you were, definitely, and without doubt both living and breathing for at least one miniscule moment, there, down in the buzz and howl and sweat of absolute and total sonic something. Total sonic you-tell-me, cynics cast out as the lights peak and it stops mattering. That something, about more, now, than label schedules, preorder schmeorder, choosing the dirtier meaning of release over the other. Invert yourself. Electric shock from strands of spit spiderwebbing the microphone. Concussion in place of orgasm. Safer, littler deaths. Plug yourself in. mainframe. Let your eyes peak red now. Cheap infinities. Last night, a small floodlight, the kind made for screenprinting studios, that was plugged into a four way extension, the ultimate squat power source, fell onto my head from a ladder hanging across two beams in the ceiling, down to where I was bent double retrieving a kick pedal for the next band. In the split second that I heard it fall, sensed the flash and heat coming towards my face, hitting my neck, I thought, perversely, not of blood and pain  and serious injury, but of a string of jumbled prayer words all said at once (like when you’re a kid and you write notes to your classmate by writing each word on top of the previous,  checking they follow as you build an illegible scribble-secret in the ultimate fuck-you-teacher argot)  I thought only, please please please please dear sweet god in the sky if you’re there don’t let the light that is about to hit also blow these amps, not tonight, not now before things are done, not now when there is more than my yearly salary’s worth of gear plugged in, only one shitty head of which is really mine, not now.  I was safe, in fact, and noone seemed to really notice too much, as I was far below eye level, and the floor was too dirty there to really tell where all the glass had gone. Cheating death. Later, I would find a totally unshattered piece of glass from the front of the light hidden behind the amp later on while cleaning up. However it hits you, it’s coming. Maybe it’ll be short lived, maybe it’ll be a low, homely buzz that continues for a month, two months, still always gone before you realise it’s on the wane. The excitement while you’re at should be enough, though, soul fuel, and if it isn’t, revisit and make it. Again again again. Maybe he didn’t want to say ‘punks,’ but he said something like ‘music people,’ something we could all agree on.  We all spill our guts.

***

Afterword: I heard the ‘if you make it to 25…’ rule when I was 16 and laughed and then went quiet at what 25 might look like. Yeah, create the punk you want, sure, be a role model, be the best you can be, but you may still find yourself in your own living room, casually discussing the latest band, everyone agreeing that this is a great, and then the killer sum up from your friend, your roommate, the person you run a label with, which is that ‘yeah its totally great, just totally boy’s music.’ Throwaway terminology, slap in the face, 25 and still that sinking feeling. There are no responses to how much of a bummer this, too tired to school, and why bother? Leave the room. Put a record on. Forget it. A fact I wish I’d known ten year ago is that I can’t and don’t want to separate or dull down the double alienation, being a girl and being a punk, and having decimated the secret code of the riff and to find it, not the impenetrable Masonic lodge of shred its so often lauded as, but nothing more at all than a few ways to move your hands, (and in any event useless without ideas) the last time I checked you play with your hands not with your dick.  The sinking feeling of not being enough is buoyed up by the ability to go and dissect ‘hard’ and play it on guitar, and find an immutable truth still glinting all deep and down in the bullshit, which is this; there is no such thing as music for boys, girls, men, women; but only music for evenings, fight music, noise not music, xerox music. 2012 may be here by the time you read this. If the Mayans were right and we’re all dust now, these pages included, at least go out knowing you tried. We all spill our guts.

Happy New Year. 

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