Around the turn of the century, the noise scene in LA was rebirthed by a new generation of highschool ages kids that did noise like it was punk or metal. They got audiences thrashing and moshing. It was an incredible energy destined to fade with age. Most of the musicians at the center of this have now gone on to break ground in much more chilled out sound: Secret Abuse, Emaciator, and Infinite Body just to name a few. One name that deserves recognition as well is Michael Fierstein, the man behind Static Aktion. Static Aktion is not a band, it is a label and booking/promotions identity. He has been booking big noise shows in LA since he was incredibly young. And he is still going strong, flying in incredible acts from all over and getting great local bands onto awesome bills. Here are some words I exchanged with him over g-chat.
me: How long have you been booking shows in LA now?
Static: the first show I booked was Nov. 2004 for New Collapse, Tender Buttons. That's if you don't count the 16 Bitch Pile Up / Sword Heaven show in my grandma's backyard from Sept. 04
me: Since then you've started to book some pretty big shows, usually under the name Static Aktion I believe. At what point did this booking name come into play?
Static: I felt like after Bob Bellerue left L.A. and the il corral sorta went under that I needed to take a more active roll in booking noise / experimental stuff in town. I put out some records as Static Aktion and it felt good to unite the shows and the records under the same banner. A lot of what I was trying to do early on was very influenced by Club Sandwhich and Neon Hates You.
me: But you have definitely taken things a step further than at least NHY really ever did, by flying acts out for shows. What was the first act you did that with?
Static: well Bob Bellerue was doing some of that in 05 / 06 and it worked sometimes so I think the first time I tried to do that was with Work / Death just because I felt like people out here really needed to see him and it wasn't going to happen in the near future if I didn't. I have been able to avoid losing money with each show after that. the Work / Death show didn't draw well at all, which is a shame.
Static: but when I say I was influenced by NHY and Club Sandwich it's more in the organization of those shows and the way people would come to NHY even if they didnt always know which bands were on the bill. I thought that was a great thing and it seems like after the Thurston Moore show some of that is happening with my shows.
me: It can be a very tough thing to keep a crowd coming back, because the Smell attracts such a young audience that "grows up" and leaves LA quickly. How much of the audience at the Thurston Moore show was under 21 do you think?
Static: I told Jim Smith of the Smell that it seemed like the average age was maybe 19 / 20 at that show. I think that the Smell brought an energy to that gig that Thurston doesn't normally get at "Noise" shows he plays on the east coast. i mean he was stage diving during a noise set
me: That is def the major thing the Smell provides that most venues do not. That young energy. Did Thurston seem stoked about his performance?
Static: i don't think the set went as he planned because one of his pedals was acting up but I think that forced him to take a much more physical approach to the set. he was leaning against this mass of stoked kids. you look at the pictures and all the people up in front look so happy
and that's so crazy to think about...they are jamming out to guitar noise / feedback.
me: Again, that is a very LA take on noise.. that it is perfectly in lineage with rock music. Without worrying too much about genre definitions: Do you pretty much just book noise shows?
Static: well I don't have any problem with booking non-noise shows but when bands like that come to me I think they are much better off going to Sean Carnage or The Smell / Echo Curio direct because those shows are just not what I'm good at. I've been booking some shows for
friends like Nite Jewel and Naomi Elizabeth but I don't advertise them as Static Aktion shows.
me: So you are making sure that people can come to expect a certain experience at a show with the Static Aktion headline?
Static: yes, definitely. I'm not sure if that's always the best approach but I have a very strong vision for what Static Aktion shows should be like.
me: so whats next for Static Aktion then?
Static: I took a few months off to try to re-focus after about 7 shows in the span of two and a half months but I'm super excited about the future. August 9th at Echo Curio - Damion Romero / Pulse Emitter /Monsturo / Grasslung / Earn. Also some shows in August for the amazing
Pharmakon from NY. Big plans for a three day festival in March of 2010.
16 Bitch Pile-Up's last show
me: Glad you are keeping with it. There really aren't many people dedicated to booking big noise shows in the US... and usually it is just once per year. Actually, who else is taking your approach?
Static: I don't see to many people trying to do it but I have the advantage of living in a big city so I have a lot of people to draw from...but I mean there are tons of people all over the US that help touring noise acts when they come thru. It seems like Nicole Chambers from IL is trying to do some bigger shows that involve flying folks in.
me: Is she in Chicago?
Static: yup, not sure if shes working on those shows by herself but shes doing some killer shit out there it seems. she's real focused and kinda intense.
me: How about you, an intense dude? Or, at least, can you tell me a little bit about why you are drawn to booking noise acts in particular?
Static: I don't think I'm intense. I try not to be. I started going to Smell shows and was really blown away by a lot of those bands like New Collapse, 400 Blows, Wives but it wasn't until I saw Rainbow Blanket that I felt I real deep connection to any of those bands. Rainbow Blanket were an eye opener for me...they were my age, they lived near me...sorta looked like me and they were making amazing music.
me: They were the entry point for a whole new generation of noise listeners in LA. Think that other kids connected with RB like you did?
Static: oh ya, I know that Infinite Body and Alex from Deep Jew wouldn't be doing what they are doing without that influence. They opened my eyes to noise in away that bands like Lighting Bolt and Wolf Eyes couldn't.
me: It is true. Even as someone a bit older than them, they had an energy that made me connect with them more than "just watching" In those years, the Smell was a place for discovery. I think Wives and Mika Miko were giving similar experiences to people.
Static: thru them I met Cole, Alex, Matt, Moth Drakula, Kyle Parker, Borges, Gordon...all of whom play a big roll in what i'm doing now. then that lead to the il corral which really made it feel like I could put on shows and do stuff. oh ya, so many of the young bands at the Smell now saw Mika Miko and Wives or early Abe Vigoda and decided to start a band i used to read punk rock books about how everyone who saw the sex pistols started a band...but that makes a lot of sense now
me: Its funny, every regular show goer for that early 00 noise scene in LA eventually become the people that made it happen. At one point I remember feeling like "there is no audience anymore, everyone became the show!" Including you this interview proves! :)
Static: ya, I hope alot of that energy and stuff can keep moving. i hope that some of my shows can introduce the Smell crowd to noise but it seems like the crowd now is alot more jaded than in 04/05 but maybe that's just because i'm older. I don't meet a ton of new noise bands anymore but that wave of all the men who can't love boys was a gold mine of amazing music.
me: Well, I think you do an amazing job, unlike anything I've seen around the US. And folks in EU that do what you do have government funding, so they aren't taking the risks you do. I'm very happy you were down to answer some questions so people can hopefully get inspired in their home town! Thank you!!
Static: awesome. I'd also like to point out that the support from Dave Stone, Jim Smith, Luke / Sarah Fishbeck, Grant from Echo Curio, the local noise crew have made all those shows possible too.
Upcoming Static Aktion Events:
Sunday August 9th:
Pulse Emitter (Portand, OR)
Grasslung (Baltimore, MD)
@ Echo Curio - Echo Park
Sunday August 23rd:
Pharmakon (Far Rockaway, NY)
@ Echo Curio - Echo Park
all photos by Wild Don Lewis