PAIN TEENS

Interview by: Jane Cain


The scene of the crime: Dave Thompson's office at EMO'S, Austin, Texas, but Dave's nowhere to be found. The suspects: The band PAINTEENS from Houston, Texas. Guilty parties include: Bliss Blood-singer (possibly dangerous, carries a microphone; left the stage screaming "soundman sucks!!!"), Scott Ayers-guitar (can be dangerous if provoked; "The genius behind the music"), Kirk Carr-bass (last seen he was headed to the bar for a beer), Frank Garymartin-drums (considered extremely dangerous; has been known to throw his drumsticks at people.) The reporter: Jane Cain, R.O.C. representative, can be found wandering the halls of the Art Building of U.T. Austin aimlessly. The crowd (you know, the oglers at the scene of the crime): Seasons To Risk (Steve is also considered to be dangerous--watchout for his microphone; also has a tendency to jump around alot), Fudge Tunnel (last seen leaving the country), and Christine (Alex's wife, "Hi!") The crime: Assault with a deadly weapon and a conscious raising interview that will make anyone think. Much thanks to Todd at EMO's--the Secretary of Schmoose--for cracking the case wide open. And thanks to Dave for the use of his office. The weapon was never found, and the case was never solved. But, all suspects are still at large and considered to be a threat to society.

Jane: What do you think about censorship?

Bliss: Well, I think it's an age old problem that is going to always be there as long as there are puritanical people that want to control everybody else. And I'm opposed to censorship, but you know, most thinking people are, I guess.

JC: What do you think of the PMRC and record stickering?

BB: Yeah, that's pretty much a joke. The labels all they do it seems to me, is make kids wanna buy something. It's like putting a Big 'X' on it saying-"Sex! Violence! Stuff you want to hear!".

JC: What's your opinion on the abortion issue?

BB: Well, actually there's a song on our new album ('Destroy Me Lover') called "RU 486", and it's just about how, what a wonderful invention it is. And I think that abortion is the only way we can save the planet, because there are just too many unwanted people.

JC: In human sexuality class, whenever the teacher started explaining the abortion procedure, alot of people got up and left. And this one guy looked like he was going to be sick.

BB: Try going through it! That's why RU 486 is cool.

JC: Exactly, it will terminate a fetus 9 weeks into pregnancy

BB: The morning after the pill.

JC: So, what influences your music and writing?

BB: Well, my personal experiences and things I see in the media and things I read in books; things people tell me about.

JC: What are some bands that are around today that you like?

BB: Um, I really like The Boredoms. I like death grind bands like Eye Hate God, and Brutal Truth, Pungent Stench. And as far as alternative bands, I like... I don't know. I'm really kinda burned out on all that stuff. I work at a record store, so we hear alot of SEBADOH, MONO MEN, SUGAR SHACK...So I listen to all that stuff, but I like everything really. But as far as favorite bands lately, I haven't... I like these guys alot, Season To Risk. I like the bands we tour with. When you really hear somebody's material 30 times in a row you really get to know it, and that's like listening to a record, you know; you kinda memorize it and get into it. But I've been listening to Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith, and stuff like that a lot.

JC: What do you think of people saying THE PAINTEENS are demented, and only write about murder, child abuse, sexual situations, and serial killers? Don't you think that categorizes you all and turns people off? I think people need to have their senses assaulted, and not be so complacent about what goes on.

BB: Yeah, I mean this is like a country in denial. The issues that I write lyrics about are pretty much things that just bother me or things that made an emotional impact on me. And, I mean, some people wanna just like party to Beastie Boys or Red Hot Chili Peppers mindless lyrics, and that's cool; but, as for myself, I've always been more into music that has meaningful lyrics that meant something to me. And like you said, you can interpret things any was you want to.

JC: Is the song "Lisa Knew" about the little girl that was killed up in New York?

BB: Um, Lisa Steinberg. There's a really good book about her called "What Lisa Knew"; and there was just a part of that book that said, "No one will ever know what Lisa knew, because she's not here to tell anybody what happened." And that just really hit me so hard, you know. Think of all the abused children that have never told their story; whoever did it to them got off. I mean, most people don't want to hear about women's and children's issues...

JC: No, they don't.

BB: They only wanna hear about guys getting laid, and whatever most rock songs are about.

JC: Well, unfortunately we live in a male oriented society. (Talk about my personal background of being abused by my father, my parents divorce...)

BB: I read a book about the psychology of abuse, and it stems from like parental abuse and alot of people grow up and become drug abusers or find other abusive people, because they want to believe that whatever happened to them originally happened to them because they were bad, because that justifies what their parents did. You know "well, I was bad. so yes! He should've hit me" or "she should've hit me" or whatever. So, "I'm bad now by taking drugs", or "I'm bad and this person is hitting me". . . (Scott enters office.)

Scott: Is this an interview?

BB: Yeah! (introductions made.) He's the genius behind the music. Do you wanna talk?

Scott: Okay! I'll talk.

JC: We're talking about censorship.

Scott: Oh, let her talk about that.

JC: I think you said why child abuse is so prevalent in your music.

BB: Well, it's prevalent in our society. There's just going to be more violent people until it stops. I don't know how it's going to stop, but maybe just awareness of the problem.

JC: Why did you decide to cover "The Story of Isaac" by Leonard Cohen? I love that song!

BB: It's a beautiful song.

Scott: Did you know the original version of it?

JC: I'd heard it.

BB: Well, I thought it would be good, because it's in line with the thematic, you know, part of our other music. Well, that wasn't a very good sentence. (sounding scholarly) It's thematically similar to the songs that we write, and I thought that I had sort of a child-like voice, as opposed to Leonard Cohen...

JC: I thought you were younger.

BB: (laughs)...Who could pull it off.

JC: Do you record the music to go with the words? Because one song I was listening to, the music went along so well with the lyrics that you could get a sense of the words by the music itself. It was so intense!

Scott: Sometimes there's a lyrical idea and there is a way to sort of parallel that in the music. I'll try to do that sometimes, like the way that "Body Memory" was recorded. It sort-of like...uh, the lyrics are sort of about this disjointed kind of personality, you know. So the music's done without listening to the other tracks. Like I did the guitar before the drums were even there, and then he did the drums without listening to the guitar...

BB: So, I mean, it's disjointed just like the lyrics.

Scott: Right! It's fragmented. But, I mean, you would never know that, like the theoretical side.

BB: (makes the sound like the music.)

Scott: That's what it sounds like, I guess.

ROC: Do you use samples or anything like that?

BB: Well, when we use samples we try to use it in a tasteful, minimal kind of way. We don't play like big string sections (makes that sound), you know. We try to; like on "Story of Isaac", you know, Scott put a little bit of the wind blowing in there. Subtlety!

ROC: In my mind, I can just visualize that song! I just love that song!

BB: That's when it becomes magical. Yeah, it's beautiful.

ROC: Who came up with the name 'PAIN TEENS"?

BB: His friend.

Scott: He just heard it, and said, "This sounds like Pain Teens."

ROC: How long has the band been together?

BB: Seven years.

Scott: The music, I mean...well, actually our first album came out in '88.

BB: Scott and I have been working together...We were like recording and fooling around in the studio together from '85 on.

ROC: Well, I have 'Born in Blood ', 'Case Histories', 'Stimulation Festival', and your new one 'Destroy Me Lover.' And you have a bunch of singles out.

BB: Yeah, and we had like 9 tapes before that; nine 90 minute tapes.

Scott: We had one record, one LP before 'Case Histories'.

BB: Yeah, a self titled album.

ROC: Did you know each other growing up or what?

BB: We met at U of H (Houston).

ROC: Did you always want to be in a band?

Scott: From the time I was about 13 or 14, sometime then...

BB: His big brother got a guitar for a gift, and he was playing football in school; so Scott learned how to play the guitar instead.

Scott: Yeah!

BB: I always wanted to sing. My Mom was really into singing and had all the movie soundtracks from musicals and stuff when I was a kid.

ROC: We used to listen to Bill Cosby and classical music when I was real little.

BB: I love classical music. My Dad was into Beethoven when I was about 5.

ROC: How's the tour been? Did you just tour the states?

BB: Yeah! It was like the outside of the U.S. It was fun at times, it was hell at times, like any tour. This is our sixth tour. We did a European tour one time with Cop Shoot Cop. And we did two west coast tours, and we've done three complete U.S. tours.

ROC: What are you doing for Halloween?

BB: Masturbating! (laughs)

Scott: We're playing in Houston.

BB: Yeah, we're playing in Houston tomorrow, but Sunday I'm free! The tour's over! I'm gonna do what I want!

ROC: If I give you a song title, will you give me a sentence to go with it, so people...

BB: Sure! OK! Word association!

ROC: "The Basement".

BB: The story of Sylvia Likens who was killed in 1965. It's a true story.

ROC: "The Way Love Used To Be."

Scott: Kinks rip off.

BB: Yeah, it's a cover.

ROC: "Desu Evol Yaw".

Scott: It's the same thing backwards.

BB: We got the idea to try to do the backwards music from 'Twin Peaks'. You know the dwarf saying, "(imitating) Very pretty."

ROC: "My Desire".

BB: Um...The beauty of love. Ha! Ha!

ROC: "She Shook Me".

Scott: Another cover.

BB: That's a cover too. That's actually a really old David Bowie song.

Scott: The words are from David Bowie's first album.

BB: "The Man Who Sold The World," Yeah!

ROC: "Hands In Fire."

BB: "Hands In Fire" is an anti-war song.

ROC: OK! "Bannoy." I think "Bannoy," "Story of Isaac," and "Living Hell" are my three favorite songs.

BB: Oh, really!?! "Living Hell", see?! (said to Scott)

Scott: Steve said that he loved "Bannoy" so much, how come we don't play it.

BB: Steve from Seasons To Risk?

Scott: Uh-huh

BB: Well , maybe we should play it tonight. I get tired of it, because it's all we used to play. "Bannoy" is about a little boy from Houston that was abused by his parents. And he finally escaped by crawling out the bathroom window. And when the police came he said, "Don' t take me back to mommy and daddy, I don't like them. " He was, like the size of a 3 year old, and he was 7, because he was so starved.

ROC: "Puzzling Diagnosis".

BB: That one, uh... Scott has this really bizarre psychiatry book, or psychology book from...

Scott: From the fifties.

BB: From the fifties, and I was just reading things at random out of this book, because it's just so bizarre.

ROC: That's a really disturbing song.

Scott: The music was from old tapes.

BB: (makes the sound of the music)

ROC: "New Woman"..."Who needs a cock, I have a sword, absolute power, absolutely corrupt."

BB: Anybody that likes that song should read "Juliet" by Marquis de Sade.

Scott: It's sort of, it's almost a tongue-in-cheek kind of version of it.

BB: Yeah, it's about a woman realizing that the only, way to have power is to be just as bad as men. (laughs) But that's like black humor. I don't really believe that.

ROC: "Cool Your Power".

BB: Well, that's like a search for someone to neutralize your sexual energy.

ROC: "Dominant Man".

BB: That was inspired by Colin Wilson. His theory about, like, that 5% of the human population and the rat population is dominant and takes control over the other people. And that women...There was a study done, and the women of high, medium and low dominance always wanted a man of the higher dominance level. They didn't want a man of the lower dominance level, they always wanted a man that was a little bit bigger than they were.

ROC: "Shock Treatment". (talk about my aunt who was in a mental hospital who received shock treatment to supposedly cure her.)

BB: I just read this excellent book about how what a big scam the psychiatry business is, and how destructive shock treatment and neurotoxic drugs are to people, which is what they give people. And really what it basically boils down to, is that schizophrenia or paranoia or any or any of those diseases-there not really diseases. It's just a moral judgment that they place on people that are acting in a way that they perceive is not normal. And you know, it just destroys... It destroys so many people that could be functioning now if they'd just been able to talk to somebody. All these people who went to these institutions, they all said the same thing...They pumped 'em full of drugs; nobody sat down and said, "Well, how do you feel? Why do you feel this way? Who said these things to you? What makes you happy?" Nobody asked them those questions. They just locked 'em in a cell and drugged 'em into zombies.

ROC: (more talk about my aunt and the effects the treatment had on her.)

BB: Well, they tell those people that what they have is incurable, and that they have to take these drugs for the rest of their lives, and that's a lie! All these people that stop taking the drugs go on to lead positive lives that can accomplish things. Because I mean, some of these people they get uh, what is it? Tartadyscanesia, or something like that, where they just get like...They have these tremors and stuff. They can't function properly; it's because of the brain damage from the drugs, you know.

ROC: For me, that's part of the whole censorship issue.

BB: Yeah!

ROC: I mean censorship's not just about music. It's not just about some book that didn't come out.

BB: Right! Exactly!

ROC: It's not just about somebody that didn't get to see a movie. It's about politicians aren't telling us what's going on, doctors aren't telling us what's going on--they're lying to us! We still don't know the whole story about AIDS.

BB: Yeah! Well, the psychiatric community is effectively censoring creative people that maybe just don't fit in with their...you know, their parents are the one's that commit them, or people around them that want them to make money and be independent, you know. And like what that guy says in that song is so great, because he was a psychiatrist. And he's saying, "I gave shock treatment and I felt that I was lobotomizing my own spirit as well as lobotomizing the patient." It's heavy, man! It's like people...You know, it really makes me sad when people listen to our album and write a review of it, and say "Shock Treatment--just some voice babbling over some music." They don't get it at all.

ROC: Whenever I listened to it, I listened to the words.

BB: Yeah, you have like personal experience that you can relate to that.

ROC: I don' t think people really think about things that really go on and happen in this society that we live in. People listen to Paula Abdul and Duran Duran. I mean, they're not singing about anything that's important to me.

BB: Right, they're not singing about anything period; except for being in love. I think pain is far stronger an emotion and something everybody feels. Not everybody feels love, but everybody feels pain, usually, almost everyday. Whether it's like resentment or rejection, or anything.

ROC: What about the song "Shallow Hole"?

BB: Well, that song ... It's funny, because I got a call from Croatia like a year ago at Christmas, and this guy said, "This is like the #1 song on our radio station here." I mean, where they're having all these horrible wars and killings and stuff; and the original psychology behind that song was...I was trying to sort of get into the mind of a murderer, and try to understand why they're doing it. It's not because they want to kill, it's because of sex. It's because they want to feel like they have power.

ROC: I don't know if you've read White Noise by Don DeLillo, but he talks about, in the book, how a killer will go around killing people to get their life power. It's about life and death, that's what the "White Noise" is.

BB: There's a really good book by a Russian writer, I don't know his name...It's called The Sky Above Hell, and it's just about this guy that's just like murdering people around him, and the reason he does it is because he wants to look into their eyes and see their life leaving their body. And I'm sure people like Ted Bundy or Henry Lee Lucas were totally into that, too. You know, that one moment when you have the power and they're gone.

ROC: And Ted Bundy defended himself...

BB: Well, there's this old adage that goes--a man who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client.

ROC: "God Told Me."

BB: Well, I got the idea for that song from a book about Albert Fish called Deranged. Ever heard about Albert Fish?

ROC: No.

BB: He was the guy that stuck needles into his groin. He was electrocuted at Sing-Sing for killing a little girl and, like, eating parts of her body. And then it came out later, he'd been sort of an itinerant painter. He just went around and painted for people. And he had, like, 10 children, too. But he just used the job that he had as a painter to find victims and murder them, for years! He got caught when he was, like, sixty. He'd been doin' that for years! 30 or 40 years!

ROC: I thought there was something like "God told me to do this."

BB: Well, he was very religious, and he had grown up in an orphanage, and he had, like, seen people being beaten everyday of his life, and he had been beaten. And he would beat himself. I mean, that's how he got off. He would beat himself with a paddle. I mean, this guy was really fucked up, because of that experience in the orphanage where people just...Abuse and, um, I was just interested in that whole psychology; that whole album ('Stimulation Festival') is really about like the psychology of murder and abuse, and how they go together.

ROC: My sister and I are always talking about trying to see the other side and why people end up the way they are. It's not that they just decide to be this way.

BB: Right! Exactly!

ROC: It's society. The way they grew up, and maybe they didn't know any different way. And Frances is totally against people being executed.

BB: Well, I don't know...I mean it seems like executions are not a deterrent, because a lot of the people that commit those kind of crimes really want to kill themselves and they don't have the courage. And so they'll go and shoot, you know, 40 Asian children -in a schoolyard so the cops will shoot them 'cause they don't have the courage to turn the gun on themselves. But I don't know.

ROC: "Poured Out Blood".

BB: It's a sample of Jimmy Swaggart. His Easter Day, that was his Easter sermon. And he was making up all this stuff about "one commentator said..." we were laughing! Actually if you listen to the original version of that, or maybe it's just the original tape, you can hear me laughing at it while we were taping it. (laughs)...It was priceless.

ROC: "Living Hell"...my favorite song, one of them. (more talk about my life.)

BB: Well, to me, the whole point is to just get that pain out of your system so it can't pollute you. When I wrote that song I was trying to imagine maybe how Jeffrey Dahmer felt, you know, or anybody like that. Anybody that's really just fucked up and, you know, doing things that they know are wrong; and they're hurting other people but they don't care, because they justify it by someone hurt them.

ROC: "Indiscreet Jewels".

BB: Well actually, what that is based on is an old Arab folktale about a Pasha or a ruler that wanted to find out the mysteries of woman and women's sexuality; and there was a woman who's genitals could speak and they call them jewels. They call it the jewel, right!? And those are the "Indiscreet Jewels" because they are telling him all the secrets of sexuality.

ROC: "Daughters Of Chaos."

BB: Oh. that's, um... actually the lyrics from that are stolen from, The Egyptian Book of the Dead. It's like a funeral eulogy. And a "Daughter of Chaos" is one of the Goddesses of the Underworld.

ROC: "Bruise".

BB: Yeah, that's like the aftermath of a really violent argument.

ROC: "Dog Spirits".

BB: Actually, Scott just taped that guy off the radio years ago, probably 10 years ago.

ROC: "Hangman's Rope".

BB: That is an old blues song (by Brownie McGhee) that we tried to do. We just tried to do kind of a weird kind of industrial take on it.

ROC: Well, I thank you for your interview.

BB: Well, it was nice to meet you, Jane.

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