INTERVIEW BY ROB ERICKSON
INTRODUCTION BY ROB ERICKSON
What came first? The chicken or the zen? Heard of Zen Guerrilla? Hope so. If you haven’t, go stand out by the on-ramp of the nearest interstate and hold a sign with their name on it. Chances are someone will pull over, pick you up, and take you for a ride. What is the logic of this? Well this band has been up, down, back, forth, and seen ’bout every rest stop this and most other countries have to offer. In between their compulsive rest stop watching they play a form of rock ’em, sock ’em, oh-shit-gonna-drop-’em-in-my-pants soul on the roll. After ten years of playing like the Harlem Globetrotters, one would think these boys break a whole new kind truth into the music. Sometimes that truth takes us for one fucked up ride. The fact is they’re just warming up to the storytelling fire. What y’all ’bout to read barely scratches the seam of ‘lore these mofos endow. What does this have to do with you? Keep holding that sign because you might go for a ride and come back with a story or two of your own.
Rich Millman – guitard…because that’s what he makes others look like when they try to play guitar.
‘A couple of years ago we played in Wichita, Kansas at Kirby’s II, this restaurant and bar. We met this woman there named Chris and her boyfriend Gavin. They were kind enough to let us stay at their house that night, which is cool you know, in like Wichita and stuff. So we were hanging out there and we had the next day off and they had a little bar-b-que and were all hangin’ out getting to know ’em. I was talkin’ to Chris, asking her about tornadoes and Kansas. She was tellin’ me about tornadoes for awhile and then she brought up how she had a cat. I was like ‘cat, uh-huh, that’s nice.’ She went on about how her aunt used to breed ‘cabbits’. I was like ‘WHAT?? Cabbits?’ I thought she said cabbage. She explained that a cabbit was half cat-half rabbit. I thought she was bull-shittin’. ‘You know,’ I said ‘I have seen Jackelopes in the desert.’ I started laughin’ and she was like ‘you wanna see ’em?’ So, she goes and gets a flashlight, right? She has this big backyard and we walk back to the far corner to this dog pen made out of chicken wire. There are all these holes burrowed around the base of the pen where somethin’ tried to escape. I was thinkin’ to myself ‘What is she gonna show me? We get up to the coop and you can hear ’em all scratchin’ around doin’ shit. The next thing you know, she pulls out some cat food. She opens the door and they all come rollin’ outta there. I guess it was some kinda cabbit house. Just rollin’ outta there man, it freaked me out. I ain’t never seen anything that freaky, man. No one believes me. I mean the other dudes (in the band) saw ’em and they couldn’t believe it. They were hoppin’ and this one big one, it was like the mean one, had like a cat head with big ole bunny ears and it had bunny legs and a bunny tail. The worst of it was the shit. Man, it was like Cocoa Puffs everywhere but it smelled like cat shit. You know how bad cat shit smells, right? It was like that, dude. She opened up the gate and threw ’em some food and they all were like in different shapes. They didn’t do nothin’ extraordinary but no one believes me when I tell them. You know, how whenever a rabbit is hurt, it makes a scream, like a real high-pitched whine? That was the noise they made when Chris touched them. I just stayed away from them ’cause it was kinda weird. I had a throw away camera and I took some pictures but I left it at the house, so I don’t have any pictures of the things. I have gone everywhere and told people about the cabbits and everyone gives me the same old shit like ‘No way, man. No way is it even possible for rabbits and cats to breed.’ But they were there, dude. Big ones, little ones, a bunch of cabbits.’
Andy Duvall – fife and drum-kit. King of the shit stories.
‘First time we played in Detroit, we played this place called Club Miami. It was like a veterans club. The first sign that it was gonna be a weird evening was this old guy walking this little mutt dog around mumblin’ to himself. Then we see him walk into the club and we were like ‘what the hell is he doin’? Later when we were setting up our stuff to play, we were like, ‘damn it stinks in here!’ The dog shit like right next to my drums. It was like gnarly ass runny, sorta like touchin’ my trap case. It was our welcome to Detroit.’
Carl Horne – four strings of freedom. If you have four fingers, form them like you are counting to four, and hold them up high to signify your allegiance to the man.
We played in Vienna, Austria, at this club that was right on a canal. Towards the end of the night I left the club to go make a phone call. I rolled out of the club and I’m walkin’ along the canal and I go underneath this bridge and it’s kinda dark and all, you know. I’m mindin’ my own business when outta nowhere this naked guy comes out screaming something in a language I couldn’t figure out. It totally freaked me out. The only thing I could think to yell at this naked guy was ‘fuck you!’ I had my pocket knife and I pulled it out yelling at this guy as I ‘m walking very fast in the other direction. I look back once and see him go back under where he came from. I kept walking wondering what the hell that was all about. I did make my phone call but I had to walk past there to get back to the club, which kinda sucked. I didn’t see him again. I was walking very cautiously, ready for the guy. I finally get back to the club and tell the rest of the gang that this naked man jumped out in front of me. They all laughed. The next day I woke up with that image of Mr. Naked Man stuck in my mind yelling something at me in a foreign language. I guess my little pocket knife scared him.
Marcus Durant – vocal accompanied by harmonica, and sometimes he will play ‘guitard’ with Rich, demonstrating Rich’s effect on those who attempt to play.
‘This is the story of the Triple B’s in North Carolina. It is a club run by Big John and has been run by four generations of Big John’s family. It turns out to be a pretty low-fi punk rock type of venue in the middle of nowhere. Big John belonged to a motorcycle gang called the Blue Tigers. He invited a bunch of his buddies who were big Zen Guerrilla fans and one of the guys who went by the name Pork Chop was a huge Thin Lizzy fan. Apparently he was a friend of the singer, Phil Lynott. This guy kept screamin’ for Thin Lizzy songs and insisted that we play their songs all night long. We ended up pullin’ out as many Thin Lizzy songs as we knew to please the Blue Tigers because that was primarily the audience at Triple B’s. In exchange , they bought us all we could eat fried food: (the only thing on the menu) fried crab legs, fried hush puppies, fried fish, fried chicken. We played the gig and then later that evening we were invited back to Big John’s compound, which was a ranch-style house surrounded by a twelve foot high fence. In the yard was his collection of Army trucks and hand grenade throwers, and all these weapons that he had stock piled in his yard for the coming of the apocalypse. We didn’t know that Big John was on this trip before we got to his house. So we arrive at the compound, and all his buddies from the Blue Tigers were there and his whole family. Big John’s mom is there whippin’ up a big ol’ pot of chicken-n-dumplings. Meanwhile Big John whips out his acoustic guitar and he puts his arm around Rich. Well, this ‘armlock’ lasted for about five hours and he made Rich play guitar while he sang to whatever Rich would play for him. As this was happening, his 6-year-old granddaughter would run around and pack bowls for him and bring him ‘pain medication’ because Big John was missing like half of his leg from a ‘night flight.’ Now, a night flight is a midnight motorcycle ride as drunk as you could through the countryside. He wiped out on his bike and sanded down part of his leg. He was on pain medication 24-7. Most of the other people had left but Big John kept Rich playing the guitar while he sang these folk songs that he made up along the way. We were up all night and into the morning at which Big John’s mother fixed a big batch of eggs, and pork chop breakfast. At the breakfast table, Big John broke out this plastic Jim Beam bottle which had all their Christmas money and he gathered all his grandkids up and asked us if we had any merchandise. He dumped out all of this change and dollar bills on the table and spent all the money on Zen Guerrilla merchandise. What I remember the most, as we were leaving the compound, was Big John and his family all in Zen Guerrilla uniforms waving to us as we drove away.’