Fashion Week Mastermind Advises Rockers What Not to WearKevin Stewart-Panko |
Joshua Lozano did it to himself. After naming his noise-rock project Fashion Week, christening the band's latest release So Last Season, and designing its cover to look like something you’d eyeball while in line at a grocery store, he shouldn’t have been surprised by what we asked of him. As part of this interview pimping his band’s new record, we threw in photos of sartorial abominations from the world of music and asked for his commentary. Lozano — who also plays in Cobalt’s live band, amongst others — was a good sport and Fashion Week (despite what anyone has to say about the aesthetic and theme) are a worthwhile addition to anyone looking for a solid nod to AmRep’s heyday.
Instead of the usual band history question, what would you say have been the most notable moments over the course of Fashion Week’s history?
This is a little hard to answer — we’re nobodies! Fortunately, I am a simple man and I truly love the small things in life. I can say that opening for Kiss It Goodbye at their reunion show was a life highlight for me. I saw them with Unsane at CBGB's when I was 17, and my life was changed that night. Before that, I thought Pantera was like the heaviest music there was. Being invited to record three songs for Dave [Curran] from Unsane’s internet label, Coextinction Recordings, was an incredible honor. His partner was Andrew Schneider, and recording with him was equally honorary, as he’s produced so many records I love and really made those songs better than I could have imagined. And I am truly looking forward to playing on a bill with the Cherubs in Bologna, Italy in a few weeks. I was trying to book this tour while on the road playing guitar for Vampillia, so I would pitch to every club we played at. The guy at Freakout Club suggested we play this show. He was like, “It’s no money, and you’d be on first, but it’s the Cherubs.” With no hesitation, I said, “Yes, please!” and I routed the second half of the tour around that opportunity. They were another one of my favorite bands growing up, but guys I never got to see … yet.
How has playing with a rotating rhythm section helped or hindered the band’s progress? Who has gone through Fashion Week’s revolving door?
Honestly, it has greatly hindered the band’s progress. New York is such a hard town to get by in. Most people live check-to-check and can’t afford to lose money on the road. Shit, my rehearsal space is $1,450 a month, and that’s cheap 'cause I’ve been there since 1998 and have so many bands sharing the space to make it easy on all of us. Also, at our age, most people are not about tour life. They have spouses, kids, etc. So, it’s hard to get anyone to commit to a tour. After several years of not doing shit, I was fed up and just started booking tours, and figured I’d find someone to play if someone else couldn’t. Fashion Week was started with Carl Eklof and Brett Zweiman. They played on most of this record. We did one tour together back when we only had a demo CD. Brett moved to Vietnam a few years ago, but is doing the upcoming European tour. Then, we had Oscar Albis Rodriguez on bass. He’s the fucking man, the most talented person I’ve ever played music with. Of course, someone with so much talent is in great demand and is too busy playing music for real bands.
Next up on bass: Andrew Archey. He played on a couple tracks on this new record and did one tour with Carl and I. His band, Godmaker, is awesome, but he keeps booking tours or shows that conflict with our tours. We did a tour with Go Deep, who I also played guitar for, with Louis Maiolica on drums and John VanAtta on bass. Louis had been one of my best friends since the '90s, and currently plays in Article 15 from Taos, N.M. John and I worked at CBGB's together and are starting a new project. The following two tours were the same lineup (shocking, I know): Cole Crick on bass, who has a sick band called Passage Between based in Baltimore, and Carson Kehrer on drums, who plays in a Nashville-based band called Sheep Shifter, and is also doing this upcoming European tour. Lately, all the local shows have been with Andrew and Jody Smith on drums. I met Jody when we were both in Family. He also plays in another local band called Beast Modulus.
What was the logic or reasoning behind calling yourselves Fashion Week?
Ha! Logic? None. Reasoning? Very little. It’s a stupid name and probably a big mistake. Have you tried Googling it? YouTube searching? Forget it! Carl and I were going back and forth for weeks and couldn’t agree on a name. I really wanted to call the band “Not as Good as Keelhaul.” It happened to be Fashion Week at the time, and he called me up all excited about this new idea for a name. I was just like, “It’s ridiculous. I like ridiculous.”
You’ve also maintained the Cosmo / Vogue aesthetic and fashion scene references. Are you actually someone who follows, is a fan of, or works in the fashion industry?
Brett started the song titles thing. I perpetuated it 'cause I still have that, “It’s about the music; labels don't matter” theory. Also, I really like the puns and, again, I like ridiculous. To be honest, I HATE fashion. I don't give a shit about my clothes or anyone else’s. My girlfriend just bought me some skinny jeans 'cause she doesn’t like the baggy jeans my mom bought me in the '90s. I told her, “I don't give a shit about pants, so if you want to buy me something, I’ll wear it. Whatever makes you happy.” I do like band shirts. I have over 1,500 band shirts. That’s the extent of my interest in fashion. All my clothes are “all-activity attire.” Meaning, I’ll go to work painting walls, to a show afterwards, then maybe swing by the 24-hour gym on the way home and won’t give my outfit much thought for any of it. “All-Activity Attire” … a new song title?
What say you about these fashion disasters?
Is this a band shot, or just one lucky guy hanging with three ladies? I think the girl in the middle didn’t get the memo: “We’re all wearing this weird, hard-to-find light blue color, and we’re even dying our hair to match.” I feel like if my mom walked in this apartment, she would talk about how much she loved the color scheme, but try to straighten that painting. She would also say to these guys that she loves their outfits and call them “funky.” The color in this shot is so vivid, more so than life ever is. I always laugh at those band shots of dudes where their tattoos look so vibrant, like their entire arms were tattooed a moment before and healed in an instant. I wish I could Photoshop everything I see so everything was super-intense like this picture, but not all the time. I want to be able to change it. Basically Instagram filters for my glasses.
I know it was popular, but I think Goldmember was the weakest Austin Powers movie, though Beyoncé was maybe the most “smashing” heroine. When I was in my late teens / early 20s, I came across a can of gold spray paint. I had never seen metallic spray paint before, and the first thing I could think to do with it was paint my sneakers. So, I had gold-painted skate shoes for a while, and whenever my skateboard would scuff 'em up too much, I would reapply. They were always leaving gold dust on everything, all my socks were gold and I always smelled like paint; also, the basement at work had, like, a hundred gold shoe stencils on the floor.
What have the reactions been like to the name and fashion-centric stuff?
I hear equal responses to the name: 50 percent awesome, 50 percent stupid. I feel like it’s the snobbiest of people who don't like it. The noise-rock scene is all about not taking yourself too seriously, and silly names galore: Gay Witch Abortion, Janitor Joe, Buzz Rodeo. I feel like we fit right in. It does bum me out when someone says, “Man, your band is sick, but I'm not gonna wear a shirt that says ‘Fashion Week.’”
Having said that, I understand the new record’s title refers to the contents’ odds-and-sods nature.
Yeah. It’s been two years since we released Prèt-â-Porter. I’d been itching to put something else out, but we have very little new material recorded. I have this repeated problem of saying yes when someone asks me, “Hey Josh, do you want to go on tour with my band, play for 10 people a night, make no money, sleep on floors, eat beans out of a can, and, oh, we’ll need you to drive, too?” I spend most of my time on the road and haven’t had the time or budget to record new material. But we still have all these songs that we recorded over the years and never really did anything with. The Coextinction EP opens up the record. I think these are some of our best songs, but we only sold like six downloads, so it’s totally brand new material to you! Then, there’s another three-song EP called Little Black Dress we recorded years ago, but kinda forgot about because we got distracted working on Prèt-â-Porter. While recording P-â-P, we recorded “Rich Hallister,” but didn’t think it fit in with those other songs, so it’s here. Then, there are two covers and two live recordings, which I like a lot. They’re so raw and wild-sounding, but they’re the only versions recorded of those songs, and I think they really suit them. We threw our original demo on at the end and mastered it 'cause we forgot to do that the first time! The demo songs didn’t fit on the 12”, so they’re only on the CD and the downloads, but if you want those songs on vinyl, we’re also releasing a companion 7” with those four songs. For me, if I don't get a recording on vinyl, it’s kinda like it never happened. Once it’s on a record, I can hang it on the wall and feel validated for all the time and money I spent making it.
What about these messes?
Is this a real band? Or is this a joke? This can’t be real … Oh, Jesus, it’s real. This is the worst one I have seen yet. I want to mention our song “Haute Topic.” It’s a joke song about the music you might hear in Hot Topic. Oscar and I used to walk into the studio and one of us would sing all emo, like, “This is the chorus, so I’ll sing!” Then the other would scream, “BUT DURING THE VERSE I SCREAM!” One day, we made it a song. Every line in it is a sarcastic jab at this sterile paint-by-numbers metalcore / whatever you call it that had taken over the “aggressive” music scene for young people. We wrote it in under an hour and laughed the whole time, right through the Kurt Cobain-wannabe guitar solo and the obligatory mosh-y breakdown. No one got it. Reviews of the record either loved the record, but hated that song, or hated the record and loved that song! Though, I'm not surprised no one got it. Most of the reviewers thought our “bio” was real, which is ludicrous. There are a bunch of girls in Brooklyn I’ve seen lately who look like this. Maybe they’re fans of this band? I don’t give a shit what people wear, but there are exceptions. Fuck these guys. I would go listen to the music, but in case there are ads or something that make them money per play, I won’t do that.
I’m glad this is here. Dinosaur Jr is basically my all-time favorite band. I always come back to them. I have a Dino Jr tattoo, and any time I pick up an acoustic guitar, I’m strumming and singing some Dino songs. I guess this was a band shot from the short while after Lou [Barlow] left, but Murph was still in the band? As far as I knew, there was never a record with both Murph and Mike [Johnson], but I’m not one of those guys who knows stuff like that. People often told me they expected I’m gonna look like J [Mascis] when I grow up. Except I’m not graying; I’m balding, which is bullshit. I don’t care what color it is, as long as it’s there. As far as clothes, I dunno, they look like guys. I suck at this. I always really liked J’s color schemes. Purple and green. My favorite colors as well. I once saw a J Mascis solo show, and he was wearing a green Adidas jacket I thought was so cool. I went to the Adidas store and it was like 60 bucks! That doesn’t seem like much now, especially realizing that people spend thousands on shoes and shit, but when I was 20, I was like, “Why the hell would this thing cost so much?” I eventually got it for half-price. Then, I put a Martin Luther King patch over the Adidas logo, because fuck brand names.
How did you end up getting Vinny Signorelli from Unsane to play on an Unsane cover with a band that isn’t Unsane?
Ha! When I was 18, I walked into a tattoo shop in Queens wearing an Unsane hoodie, and the guy in the shop says, “Discounts to guys in Unsane hoodies!” It was Vinny! He gave me my first piercing, and I nearly passed out and drooled all over him. I lived not far from the shop, so I started going in there to ask him about drumming and to geek out. A little while later, he asked me if I would like to go on tour selling merch and lugging gear for Foetus. Vinny was playing drums and Dave was TM. We’ve been buds for close to two decades. So, when it was time to record this cover for a comp, the choice was obvious. I stopped by the shop, asked him, and he was like, “Sure, I already know the song!”
Is your label, InDebth, going to be reserved strictly for your own releases?
It’s not a real thing. The people pressing the record kept asking me the name of the label and insisting I have a catalog number. So, I had to come up with something. I thought of “InDebth" because I'm going deeply into debt to press these records. I spend most of my time on the road losing money, and it’s hard to keep a job when you’re always going out of town, so I work shifts at venues, drive a truck once in a while and do freelance carpentry / handyman work. I dump all my money into my studio, recording, etc., and basically live off credit cards. I have eight maxed-out cards and one more with no limit (dummies). Total debt is $68,000 after paying for these records. I expect to lose over $2,000 on our European tour. So, I don't think I’ll be pressing any more records any time soon. Besides all that, I’m not very financially driven. If you buy the 7” and 12”, you get a bundle price; after PayPal and Bandcamp fees, I break even. Anyone whose record I released would be very unhappy with my poor business operation, [but] I live for music. I just want these songs to get heard, and I have no idea how to pitch to a label or anything like that, so I did it myself. It gave me the opportunity to have it the way I wanted: awesome colored vinyl, fancy gatefold, etc. I feel like a label would have insisted I put the bar code on the back, but I incorporated it into the art on the front. Every fashion magazine has the bar code on the cover.
Is there a new Fashion Week album on the horizon?
Yes, the distant horizon! Between Fashion Week and Cobalt, I’m gonna be on tour for most of the next five months. I can’t wait to get all this music over with so I can focus on music. Jody and I have been working on new songs, and Carson and I have plans to meet up to write and record. I also intend on recording one song entirely myself, Dave Grohl-style. This record is going to be a weird one. The songs are already written, and the ideas I have are all pretty different. It will take several months to get it all together and several months to get the money together to record it. Then I’ll sit on it for a year, literally doing nothing, but wondering why some label hasn’t released it, then probably revive InDebth.
Kwamé? I guess this is a music group of some kind? I remember people dressed like this on The Fresh Prince [of Bel-Air] or House Party, but I never in my whole life saw anyone dress like this off-screen. These guys all got the polka dot memo. Remember when you were younger and one friend got some hair bleach, so your whole circle of friends had similarly bleached spots of hair? That was fun. Then someone would get some green, punky colors, and then all your friends had green hair; then it was purple Manic Panic, and we all walked around with matching purple hair and the same band shirts on and shit. I’m like an old grandfather telling stupid stories no one cares about here.
I gotta say: When Leviathan came out, I said, "Watch, this band is going to be the next Metallica." Like, when I was 13 listening to CDs with my tab book, trying to learn how to play guitar to Metallica, Mastodon will be that band for the next generation of guitar players. AND I WAS RIGHT! I like how they signed to a major and Brent [Hinds] went and immediately tattooed his face. That’s some shit I would do. But I probably won’t do it until I get that signing bonus. I’m talking shit. I don’t actually know when exactly he tattooed his face. Am I supposed to make fun of the balloon suit and baseball outfit? I guess it’s weird, but it’s fucking Mastodon. They can do whatever the fuck they want.
What is this? The picture is kinda small — is it supposed to look like meat? Is it meat?! If it is, fuck that! I don’t like the killing of animals for any reason, but if this is an outfit of meat, that’s like so wrong in my book. I mean, who cares about my book, but still. Let’s kill some animals and wear their flesh? One time, then throw it away while there are people starving?! Fucking stupid. I’m not sure if this is a woman or a man in drag, but whatever the case, fuck them. Unless it’s not actual meat. Then … I guess I take that all back and I say, "Your dress is ugly, but I like your hair, or wig, and bravo for matching the shoes to the dress." It’s always a cool look when I see guys with matching shoes and hats or whatever. I can’t make that much effort when getting dressed, but sometimes accidentally match something and I’m like, “All right! Go me!”