Sunday, June 21, 2020

Interview: Shi (死)

Formed in 2015, Louisville's Shi (死) has been playing their particular brand of depressive suicidal stoner doom for 5 years, culminating in 5 EPs and a new full length, aptly titled "Depressive Suicidal Stoner Doom." We spoke band members Bob Lowrey, Tyler Lewis, and Jayce Wraley about their style, new album, and what is next  for SHI.

37-What is the meaning behind the band's name, 死?

Bob Lowrey- That kanji represents death in Japanese (shi, pronounced like “she”). I’d been mulling around various names, trying to find something simple but not too derivative. Being a nerd, Japanese culture is super interesting to me; utilizing such a direct and simple concept and character in the band name made sense.

37-The title of your new album, "Depressive Suicidal Stoner Doom" practically says it all in terms of sound. What gave you the idea for that title?

Bob- I think we’d been talking about black metal (Jayce and Tyler started a project, Crown ov Serpents, which I play bass for) and we were talking about how best to describe the Shi sound - depressive suicidal black metal came up during a chat and I’d jokingly said that Shi basically is that, but about getting high before offing yourself - Depressive Suicidal Stoner Doom

Tyler Lewis- Yeah what Bob said, it was just the funniest/easiest way to describe our mix of stoner doom songwriting with hefty sad boi aesthetic.

37- Besides getting super high and dying, the lyrical content of DSSD takes on a sci-fi angle, such as soothsayers and hags with tendrils. What's your inspiration for writing lyrics?

Bob- When I’m writing lyrics, I usually end up going either introspective and cathartic, or I just try to tell stories. I enjoy most nerdy/”weirdo” stuff like horror movies, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. A lot of times I find it easier to create a narrative scenario to describe in lyrics than it is to open up and write about myself or my experiences without sounding cliche. Those final three songs (Swamp Hag, Mudman, Danksquatch) incorporate a narrative arc that runs through all three, while still maintaining a lyrical undertone that matches the overall Depressive Suicidal Stoner Doom idiom.

37- The lone holdout stylistically is Interlude.  It's an impressive track all on its own, but what was the idea of having a traditional sounding track on an album titled "Depressive Suicidal Stoner Doom"?

Bob- I try to keep varied musical inspiration in my rotations, and one genre I’ve really grown to enjoy in recent years has been bluegrass and older country/honky-tonk. I’ve got an upright bass and a banjo, and figured why not try and bring those instruments into the mix somehow. We’d used them very briefly during a part on the song “No Holy Men” off our Cellar 1 EP, and a few friends had mentioned really digging that bit. It felt natural to bring that back in as an interlude and introduction/transition into that final 3-song run on the album.

37- Bob, your vocal style has altered on recordings from fairly unaffected to full on doom. DSSD has abandoned the straight forward vocal style for a very unique doom style. How is this layered vocal technique accomplished?

Bob- Figuring out how I wanted to do vocals was definitely a big part of finding “our sound”, while also acknowledging the heavy influence of bands like Weedeater and Bongzilla in there. On the album, the vocals are two separate takes of me yelling, which then got blended together by Devin (Harper, Nocturnal Media) during post-production. We’d tried clean singing on earlier releases, and may reincorporate that a bit in the future, but the shout/yell/scream has definitely been the style I’m most comfortable with when it comes to writing and feeling OK with the performance.

37- Jayce Wraley, you joined in 2017 and added a new layer to the SHI sound. What is your background and what do you see as your role in the writing process of the band?

Jayce- Well, I used to jam with Tyler and Zach years ago, nothing serious, just covers and improvisation. Then they formed SHI and I would go see them live. One thing led to another, they wanted a second guitarist and asked me to join. I don't write much of the music in SHI. Bob will just show me the riff and I follow. I'll add a little dank to the riff if it sounds right.

Bob- Usually Tyler and I will flesh out an initial idea, bring it to Zach who adds his two cents, then we bring it to Jayce and he adds that final bit of special something - often times it’s a harmonized guitar lick, or maybe adjusting the arrangement of when each of us come in on a riff.

37- What is next for SHI?

Bob- We are currently self-recording a covers EP that we hope to have out in the coming months. As venues and bars start to re-open for live performance and we can safely enjoy those spaces together we definitely look forward to the opportunity to play live again - Ideally we’d like to try and do a weekend run into a few regional cities we’ve not played yet (looking at a run starting up in Pittsburgh and working our way back down via Columbus, Cincinnati, etc). Other than that, we’re working on writing new material for our 2nd album.

Tyler- Yeah I just can’t wait to move through this pandemic and get back out playing again when the time is right. Like Bob said we’re trying to get out of Kentucky more often so if you want to see us in your area shoot us a message and we’ll make it happen!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Editorial: The Murder Mayor Must Go

In the wake of unspeakable brutality from our police department and the solidarity of our people to demand change -and under the constant threat of unwarranted continued police abuse- the response from our elected mayor, as well as the response of the LMPD is unfathomable. It is almost difficult to describe despite the amount of international coverage in the ongoing belligerent attitude of our local government.

Not that we, here at 37FLOOD, haven't tried. Soon after being elected we began to post editorials about Greg Fischer's criminal  dealings in the Mayor's Office; from raiding the city's coffers in blatant sweetheart landholding deals, such as selling city property well below market value for his friends to immediately flip for handsome profits to his forgivable loans to developers to gentrify low income neighborhoods pushing Louisville's poor into even worse financial situations and using the 'Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund' as a way for Fischer to hand over city funds to his developer buddies so they can have free money to buy up properties in low income neighborhoods and make a fortune with our tax dollars by gentrifying the areas causing one of the biggest cost-of-living increases in the US in the last decade.

It was horrifying the way our mayor so unabashedly targeted and destroyed our lower income citizens for profit causing a major jump in families living in poverty (according to the U.S. Census). But his actions could almost be understood as the actions of a greedy & powerful privileged dick putting profits over human lives, horrifying yes, but sadly we've gotten apathetic to the actions of privileged dicks. But somewhere in his second term his actions took a different tone, seemingly not motivated by stealing vast sums of money from the people, but something even more dark.  After brokering dirty deals, like giving $30 million of the city's money for the soccer arena in a move that further punished the poor and shot the cost of living through the roof he refused to raise minimum wage over $9/hr causing a 34% increase in residents who pay more than 50% of their earnings to housing costs. And after sweeping the poorest into the street to die in order to steal money hand over fist Fischer seemed to enjoy making the process as painful and humiliating as possible for our city's most vulnerable. If that wasn't bad enough he waited until December 8th, 2017, in freezing temperatures, to bulldoze a homeless camp on the arena property in a heartless move that could only be described as sadistic.

By then the mayor was into his third term and without worrying about a reelection he seemed to really ramp up his criminal actions, beyond dirty business deals into behaviour that is more related to ruthless barbarism. While similarly sized cities like Minneapolis have voted to replace the police force with a community-led model, the mayor releases his budget proposal for next year, a whopping $190 million for the police, and just $34 million for public health.  He hasn't even gotten Louisville's Covid-19 Contact Tracing Program started yet and the first reported case in Louisville was early March.

  It's hard to understand his sadistic actions when there doesn't seem to be any monetary or political gain, only for the sake of crushing others because he can. In this defining moment in our city Fischer has the chance to become a great leader, to make solid changes and heal a community in pain, but instead is choosing to show his might as the world shakes its head in confusion and horror. He won't even release the name of (much less fire) the officer who purposely fired rubber bullets at a news crew filming live on air during the protests. The officer, known only as L6, is still on the job after shooting, reloading, and shooting again on the WAVE 3 news crew who were behind police lines and not breaking any law. What is the point of keeping brutal cops on the force besides showing your power during a time when condemnation is coming in from literally the entire world? Other cities are cracking down on police that abuse peaceful protestors but the mayor is going to great lengths to protect them at the expense of the community.

As the world mourns the death of Breonna Taylor and the nation's cities are burning, the Mayor has done more to thumb his nose at a grieving city and make matters worse. The LMPD did all it could to lie, slow up investigations, and railroad Taylor's boyfriend Kenneth Walker, and the mayor did nothing. The Police said they knocked during a No-Knock warrant, witnesses said they did not, using  a battering ram to kick in the door. The police originally said Taylor shot at them although Walker admitted to firing the single shot at police, and only after Taylor repeatedly called out asking the intruders to announce themselves.

The Mayor could say he helped the attempted murder charges against Walker get dropped, but that was 2 months later. He could say they released Walker's 911 call, but that was only after Taylor's family released it first, and the city still won't release 911 calls from witnesses. The Mayor could say he fired the Police Chief, but that was after Conrad announced he was retiring at the end of the month anyway. The 'You Can't Quit Because You're Fired' defense is of little consolation. He could say He signed Breonna's Law banning No-Knock Warrants, but after a unanimous vote by the city council he had little choice. The choices he does have, he has chosen to do next to nothing. The officers involved in Taylor's killing are still on the force. The killers of George Floyd were fired and arrested. The mayor could have at least put them on leave but he didn't, and one of the officers, Brett Hankison, has 15 years worth of complaints against him including rape and serious bodily injury against another officer and is not only still on the job but a member of the Louisville Police Merit Board. When Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear demanded the body cam footage from the officers at David McAtee's killing the mayor said none of the police turned their cams on. This insolence doesn't end and Louisville is paying the price with human lives.  What does it take for a brutal officer to be removed from the force besides retiring? Either the LMPD has some major dirt on the mayor keeping him from doing the slightest thing to curtail police corruption or he is just drunk on his own power keeping him from protecting us. When the LMPD famously walked out on the mayor showing their absolute disregard for the law and chain of command again the mayor did nothing and we are getting murdered over it.

The mayor can't do one thing to pretend like he gives a damn but just continues to show his disdain for justice and civility. After 3 long months of non-action the city finally released its report on Taylor's  death, a report the whole world would see, and it was a big 'Fuck You' to Taylor's family, the Racial Justice Movement, and to the city of Louisville. He knew the world would be waiting for this report, so to release a nearly blank document that basically only includes only the time, date, case number and the victim's name, and the misinformation stating Taylor received no injuries, and that there was no forced entry is beyond blatant incompetence, it is simply criminal. Unions are important, but in the case of the FOP, this is a union that aides in facilitating murder and shielding lawbreakers from justice. We need to follow Minneapolis and Canton in a complete restructure of the police force before more innocent lives are lost to a corrupt local government.
If the mayor can deem the Police Chief unfit, we as a city need to call Greg Fischer unfit for office (if not brought up on human rights abuse charges) and demand his removal immediately before more lives are lost to his incompetence, his disregard to the health and safety of our city, and his flagrant abuse of power. Greg Fischer's continual actions (and inaction in the case of the LMPD) are literally killing innocent Louisvillians. If we love our city the time is now to demand a change.

In 2017, after a record breaking year of homicides (124 in 2016), the Metro Council gave a vote of no-confidence of Louisville police Chief Steve Conrad and recommended that the mayor replace him. Imagine the brutality that would have not happened if he had, or the lives that could have been saved. Instead the mayor not only ignored the council but lashed out against them, saying "too many (council) members are just critics and simplistically target one person for a complex problem." (which is what he himself did after the killing of McAtee) adding that "Chief Conrad and the dedicated men and women of the LMPD have my full support and appreciation, and clearly that of the vast majority of Louisville citizens." The mayor clearly has no idea what the vast majority of citizens want, or doesn't care, and he certainly has no control over the police that have shown they will do what they want, and if they don't like what the mayor is doing, they walk out on him. It is time to end this cycle of violence. Please contact your Metro Councilperson now and demand Greg Fischer be removed from office. It's very easy, just click the link and leave a message demanding immediate action be taken now before more lives are lost.

You can also email the US Conference of Mayors here voice your opposition to Greg Fischer as the Vice President and incoming President of their organization.