Tuesday, January 11, 2011
GSD Interview. Yes that GSD-Garry Scott Davis!
GSD was a major part of skateboarding for me pretty much from day one. I remember all
his photos in Transworld and pretty much ever kid from the Yarmouth side of DY had a GSD deck at one point or another. The "banks/curbs" thing meant a ton to us as that is what we skated day in and day out. He had his own style in the what was rapidly turning into the skater uniform world. His part at the Oceanside contest was another rebel moment. I saw his band open for Drive Like Jehu at the Middle East, but didn't realize he was in the band til I got the record a month later. Some internet snooping helped me track him down and in the grand tradition of WWDIS interviews, I fired off an email and waited to see what happened. Happily he replied to some questions and some follow ups, so without further adieu, some Q&A with GSD.
WWDIS: Without being a "It was all better back in the day!" kind of guy, how do you view the evolution of skateboarding / music / art into the mainstream?
GSD: I view it through a rose-colored kaleidoscope submerged in a murky aquarium. Just kidding. I liked skateboarding better in the early ’80s, when I was the only freak of nature in Cincinnati who did it, back before it turned into little league with a cop-controlled skatepark in every neighborhood. It was inevitable that skateboarding would proceed into the mainstream. Where else could it go, except into a graveyard? The sunny side is that t least skateboarding probably won’t ever completely die out, now that it’s so entrenched in our culture. As far as music goes, punk wormed its way into the mall by the mid ’80s and indie rock turned into so-called “alternative” in the early ’90s. “Where else is there to go?” I wondered. That’s when I started listening to more experimental music like avant garde classical, electro-acoustic, electronica, free improv, free jazz, gamelan, indie, krautrock, minimalism, obscure psychedelic, raga, sound art, acid folk, etc. and I never looked back.
WWDIS: Tracker had such a sunny / California kind of vibe (at least from the outside). How did you fit in? Was it an odd fit for you?
GSD: I was only able to fit in with the help of a shoe horn. Just kidding. No, it wasn’t an odd fit at all. Neil Blender and Dan Wilkes rode for Tracker, too.
WWDIS: Some of your more famous photos were taken at the Shell Bowl, which looked like a pretty nice bank. What was it really like?
GSD: It was a super nice asphalt drainage bowl right on the beach in Oceanside. It tapered from a shallow end that extended from flat ground down into steep banks, one with a narrow lip and the other with a deck and a parking block. There were also boulders to jump onto. That place was one of the best bank spots ever. It got tarred and graveled by the city a year after it was built. I remember Tracker Larry showed up at 8:00 a.m. to protest that event, to no avail. The bowl is still there, but it’s still totally unskatable. What a waste.
WWDIS:You were there in the early and pre-internet days. As things get easier to find, do you feel they lose some of their value?
GSD: Yes. I think about that all the time. Everything is way too easy now in this Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube world. I liked it more back when you had to learn about rad stuff by reading books and magazines, and digging through stacks of vinyl and tapes in dusty old record stores. I got into whole worlds of new music and art just by cross-referencing names in all of those mediums. I didn’t need the Internet. Now, to find out about anything, all it takes is a few keystrokes and mouse clicks. It’s way too easy and kind of sterile.
WWDIS: How active are you now with Custom Floor? How much did you tour? I saw you open for Drive Like Jehu in Cambridge a longtime ago. I think Coral was on the bill as well?
GSD: I’m very active with Custom Floor. We usually do aerobics together at least six days a week. Just kidding. The last show we played was in 2000, and the last album we recorded was released in 2005, so the time is nigh to brew up something new. I have a few new songs in the works, but my drummer lives in New York, so that may take a few decades. Custom Floor did a short tour of California in 1992, and a full U.S. tour in 1994. Half of that tour was spent opening for Drive Like Jehu, which was fun.
WWDIS: Are you currently active in any other musical projects?
GSD: There’s an offshoot of Custom Floor called Carpet Floor, who play free improv and spontaneous psych. I have a lot of other ideas that I hope to transfer into music someday when I can make time.
WWDIS: What labels / musicians are you currently into?
GSD: Kaoru Abe, A Certain Ratio, Acid Mothers Temple, Almu Aga, Agitation Free, Agog, A Handful of Dust, Aihiyo, Airway, Algarnas Tradgard, Maryanne Amacher, Charles Amirkhanian, AMM, Amon Duul, Beth Anderson, AR and Machines, Ash Castles on the Ghost Coast, Robert Ashley, Ash Ra Temple, Albert Ayler, Alvarius B, Derek Bailey, Bardo Pond, the Baschet Brothers, Steffen Basho-Junghans, William Basinski, Francois Bayle, David Behrman, Harry Bertoia, Big Black, the Big Boys, Biosphere, Biota, Sir Richard Bishop, Olivia Block, the Blue Humans, BNSF, Boards of Canada, Dock Boggs, Borbetomagus, the Boredoms, Brainticket, Glenn Branca, Jens Brand, Kjetil D. Brandsdal, Brast Burn, Susanne Brokesch, Sandy Bull, Dave Burrell, early Butthole Surfers, Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies, Captain Beefheart, John Cage, John Cale, Calla, Cambodian Rocks comp, Can, Carpet Floor, Joseph Celli, Charalambides, Rhys Chatham, Che-Shizu, the Citizens for Interplanetary Activity, Nels Cline, Clive's Original Band (COB), Cluster, John Coltrane, Comus, the Conet Project, Tony Conrad, early Alice Cooper, Philip Corner, Matt Crane, Crawling With Tarts, Alvin Curran, Current 93, Custom Floor, Dadamah, Damenbart, Dara, Debris, Martin Denny, Destroy All Monsters, Eddie Detroit, Deuter, Francis Dhomont, Djam Karet, DNA, Tod Dockstader, the Dog Faced Hermans, the Doo-Dooettes, Dreamies, Arnold Dreyblatt, Drive Like Jehu, Jean Dubuffet, Iancu Dumitrescu, Judy Dunaway, John Duncan, Julius Eastman, Einsteurzende Neubauten, Brian Eno, Ethiopiques comps, the Ex, Exias-J, John Fahey, Fat Harlingen, Faust, Morton Feldman, Luc Ferrari, Fibrillation, Fifty Foot Hose, Fille Qui Mousse, David First, Henry Flynt, Food Brain, Dredd Foole, Free Kitten, Rev. Dwight Frizzell, the Fugs, Ellen Fullman, Fushitsusha, Kenneth Gaburo, Diamanda Galas, Galaxie 500, Gasaneta, Gate, Vittorio Gelmetti, the Germs, Ghost, Jon Gibson, Gilberto Gil and Gal Costa, Charles Gocher, Go Hirano, the Green Ray, Rudolph Grey, Ragnar Grippe, Ground Zero, Group Doueh, Grouper, Bernhard Gunter, Guru Guru, Keiji Haino, the Halleluejahs, Tom Hamilton, Hapshash and the Colored Coat, Harmonia, Harvester, early PJ Harvey, Tim Hecker, Pierre Henry, High Rise, Mark Hollis, Howth Castle, Iceburn, If Bwana, Isan, Teiji Ito, Jackie O Motherfucker, Henry Jacobs, Jandek, the Jesus and Mary Chain (just Psychocandy), Joe Jones, Mauricio Kagel, Mikami Kan, Jutok Kaneko, Roland Kayn, Tomokawa Kazuki, Rodd Keith, Karuna Khyal, Knead, Gottfried Michael Koenig, Barbara Kolb, Thomas Koner, Konono No. 1, Kontakta, Erkin Koray, Takehisa Kosugi, Kousokuya, Kraftwerk, Alan Lamb, Eric Lanzillotta, Lard Free, Le Forte Four, Les Rallizes Denudes, Lightning Bolt, Live Skull, the Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS), Lost Aaraaff, Love Live Life +1, Lovely Midget, Frank Lowe, Alvin Lucier, Ralph Lundsten, Lush, Maciunas Ensemble, Angus Maclise, Magical Power Mako, Magic Hour, Maher Shalal Hash Baz, Mahogany Brain, Marble Sheep and the Run Down Sun's Children, Lionel Marchetti, Walter Marchetti, Christian Marclay, Marginal Consort, Mars, Ingram Marshall, the Master Musicians of Jajouka, Matmos, Richard Maxfield, Loren Mazzacane, Microstoria, Roger Miller, Mimir, Minor Threat, Mirror, Mirror Dash, the Misfits (just Walk Among Us), Kimio Mizutani, Mnemonists, Roy Montgomery, Anthony Moore, Thurston Moore, Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co., Mu, Chie Mukai, Gordon Mumma, Musica Elettronica Viva (MEV), Music From the ONCE Festival comp, MX-80 Sound, My Bloody Valentine, John Myers' Blastula, Nagisa Ni Te, Conlon Nancarrow, Neu!, the New Tweedy Brothers, Phil Niblock, the Nihilist Spasm Band, Nijiumu, No Neck Blues Band, No New York comp, Arne Nordheim, Nurse With Wound, Pauline Oliveros, Bjorn Olsson, Organum, Os Mutantes, Ouba, Oval, Overhang Party, Charlemagne Palestine, Bernard Parmegiani, Parson Sound, Harry Partch, Linda Perhacs, Physics, the Pixies, Pluramon, Larry Polansky, Pole, Polvo, Popol Vuh, Powerdresser, Pandit Pran Nath, Prince Far I (Cry Freedom Dub), Purple Trap, Dick Raaijmakers, Folke Rabe, Eliane Radigue, Lee Ranaldo, Tom Recchion, Steve Reich, Hans Reichel, Ride, Terry Riley, RLW, Steve Roden, Keith Rowe, Ray Russell, Frederic Rzewski, Philip Sanderson, Savage Republic, Pierre Schaeffer, Gunter Schickert, Marcus Schmickler, Conrad Schnitzler, Raymond Scott, Scratch Acid, the Scratch Orchestra, the Sea Donkeys, Sonny Sharrock, Shizuka, Siloah, the Silver Apples, Slint, Sonic Youth, Omar Souleyman, Spacemen 3, Laurie Spiegel, the Spoils of War, Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Karlheinz Stockhausen, the Stooges, Sublime Frequencies label, Morton Subotnick, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Sun City Girls, Sun Dial, Sun Ra, Surface of the Earth, Sweet and Honey, Taj Mahal Travellers, Masayuki Takayanagi, Talk Talk, Tangerine Dream, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, James Tenney, Theoretical Girls, This Heat, Throbbing Gristle, Toho Sara, To Rococo Rot, Total, Trad Gras Och Stenar, David Tudor, "Blue" Gene Tyranny, Uncle Jim, the United States of America, Masayoshi Urabe, Vladimir Ussachevsky, Edgard Varese, Vajra, the Velvet Underground, Lois V. Vierk, the Vocokesh, Voice Crack, Wabi Sabi, Igor Wakhevitch, Warm Climate, Patty Waters, White Heaven, White Magic, White Noise, White Out, White Winged Moth, Simon Wickham-Smith, Davey Williams, the Wind Harp, Trevor Wishart, Witthuser and Westrupp, Christian Wolff, Iannis Xenakis, Xhol Caravan, Yahowha 13, Father Yod, the Michael Yonkers Band, Otomo Yoshihide, La Monte Young, the Young Marble Giants, Richard Youngs, Yura Yura Kingdom, Z'ev, plus a lot of other stuff I can't think of right now that I'll add later.
WWDIS: What were the highlights of your recent Southeast Asia excursion?
GSD: The gamelan music, traditional dance and temples of Bali and Java. The art of Islam in Kuala Lumpur, Malayasia. Snorkeling in the turquoise water of the Phi Phi islands in Thailand. Exploring highly ornate, gold-covered Buddhist temples throughout Thailand and eating the most delicious food ever at May Kaidee’s vegetarian restaurant in Bangkok. In Myanmar, gazing at the towering, golden Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and attending the chaotic and colorful Nat Pwe (spirit festival) of music and dance in Tangbyone. You can view all of my photos and stories from this trip at Arcane Candy.
WWDIS:Cycling (This question is based only on your MySpace interest of "mountain biking.") How into it are you? Mountain? Road? Etc.
GSD: I’m so into it! I love the cool wind rushing over my face and getting a good workout by climbing steep hills. I bought a mountain bike about five years ago because the company I worked for was located right next to some great trails. I got laid off at the beginning of 2010, so I had to say goodbye to those trails. Then I started riding my mountain bike on the road down by San Diego, where I’m situated now. I still hope to ride trails every once in a while, but there’s not enough time to put my bike in the back of my truck and drive really far every day.
So there you go. Thanks to Garry for his time.