SUNWATCHERS and EUGENE CHADBOURNE
3 Characters 2xLP/DA
Listen: "Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing"
Sunwatchers teamed up with Eugene Chadbourne for two days of recording in October 2016 which resulted in SUNWATCHERS AND EUGENE CHADBOURNE's 3 Characters 2xLP/Digital (AMI 050). These sessions were dedicated exclusively to the music of the Minutemen, Doug Sahm and Henry Flynt. Having never played together before, all the songs were completed in one or two takes and the recordings reflect an urgency and immediacy that audiences have to come to expect from these musicians.
The three characters invoked on these recordings offer models for our current political and societal struggles. Creating a music that is both personal and political, artistic and activist, these three figures were/are soulful and practical examples of the artist-as-laborer, addressing a call for social justice and musical spontaneity. Chadbourne and Sunwatchers have taken up this struggle, touring and recording, writing and collaborating, throughout their respective careers. Pushing this ethos out into the field and on this recording, 3 Characters is a reverential labor of love, where musical labor becomes a form of both love and resistance.
The backstory for his record speaks to both our current times and more recent histories. Sunwatcher Jim McHugh has counted Eugene an influence since his formative years in North Carolina. At 15, Jim watched Doc take apart a Dead Kennedy's song at his local record store, Crunchy Music Stuff (later Gate City Music). Later, Chadbourne played benefits at Jim's Greensboro punk-space. While touring Russia in the Spring of 2016, Chadbourne reached out for help booking upcoming shows in NYC; email was spotty, booking was slow-going, and the intermittent exchange felt very much like a redacted transmission from our Cold War past. This discussion eventually developed into a loose dialogue about a punk/American genealogy threading together hardcore, folk, country and soul, and an outsider's take on American minimalism/hillbilly Marxism. In short, they wanted to create a relevant and modern body of Protest Music.
Mike Watt joins the conversation with spoken interpretations of lyrics, poetry, speeches and assorted agit-prop. Having Watt's contemporary voice alongside so many songs that he wrote and defined suggests this, and all artistic collaborations, function as part of a long continuum that inform future callings.