20 Questions with Mourning Goats
INTERVIEW FIFTY SEVEN
Jesus Angel Garcia
This interview has been over a year in the making, but after the festival with Iggy (yes, that Iggy) and the Stooges, we got some questions answered. So, without further adieu, I give you Jesus Angel Garcia and his book, badbadbad!
1. What comes to mind when you hear, "Mourning Goats?"
The remorse of a 14-year-old Catholic boy, masturbating.
2. Do you consider yourself more of a novelist or musician?
I've played music and written "seriously" since 8th grade. I'm glad I'm still able to do both, but what's more important to me is how I live, quality of life. I'm just trying to be a decent human being and enjoy what's left of my time.
3. That being said, you have 30 shows lined up for 2013, already. When are you going to have time to write?
Yeah, I've got a lot going on with my string band Three Times Bad. Most of my writing right now is song lyrics. I've also begun to write my next book -- a collection of stories and prose poems based on Billie Holiday tunes. I make time when I can, when I feel like I need to get something down. I like flying because I'm trapped on the plane and all I do is write (and read). It's a respite from everything on the ground demanding head space. I'm doing a writing retreat in Portland this summer, so I'll crank out some more Billie Holiday drafts then (and learn to play this banjo I recently picked up). I'm also seeing this beautiful poet who won't let me not write. We're talking about launching a transmedia publishing company.
4. What was the idea behind doing not only the book and music for the book, but also film? Was it all marketing?
Nah, less marketing than unrestrained creative impulse, I guess. It's hard to remember exactly. I think the multimedia stuff for "badbadbad" started out simply from my interest in exploring the novel's themes through different lenses, just to see what that would look like. I did originally plan to make a couple of videos from the audio-visual material to promote the book outside traditional literary channels. I've always been into music, and at the time, I had just bought my first point-and-shoot camera and editing software, so I was fired by the possibilities. As I got deeper into writing songs and interviewing people on the street, the whole thing sort of took off and I could see these distinct yet interrelated projects coming into being. I couldn't stop once I saw what they could be. I wound up with a complete soundtrack and a full-length documentary film that extended the breadth of the novel beyond the words on the page. It was an unexpected outcome.
5. What's going on with Down in a Hole?
That's my second novel. It took me six years and fifty thousand drafts to get it right. The manuscript's on my hard drive. I should probably print a hard copy. I haven't shopped it much, focusing instead on Three Times Bad. No luck with the few indie presses I've hit up. I should probably put more effort into getting that book published. It's a paranormal anti-romance historical fiction existential meditation on mortality. Got any recs?
6. What was it like working with New Pulp Press? Any plans to go back for another book?
New Pulp's editor/publisher Jon Bassoff is a great guy. He's easy to work with and incredibly supportive. But I don't have plans to write anything new in the transgressive noir vein, and his aesthetic is pretty much twisted crime fiction, so I'm gonna have to look elsewhere for a home for my next books.
7. What's your writing schedule look like? Do you have one?
I travel by plane as often as possible.
8. It seems as though you're a full-time musician and novelist, is that right? What else do you do to fill your time?
I freelance: First Church webmaster, reiki massage therapist, mile-high entertainer on those private jets where CEO's and politicians lick each other's billfolds.
9. Mud Luscious Press just closed up shop, where do you think indie lit is headed?
From what I can tell, indie lit is a luminescent, Hydra-headed beast with boundless energy, badass attitude, and an appetite for self-destruction. Indie lit is hungry, and it feeds on itself. When one braintrust dies, a new one rises from its rotten corpse. As there's no end to cynicism in the indie lit world, there's also no end to the idealism of bleary-eyed writer/editor/publishers-in-training. Have I mentioned that I'm starting a press? Of course: "Unsolicited submissions are not being accepted at this time."
10. What's your take on e-books? Are they killing the printed word?
E-books are... eeeevil? Nah. I don't care. Go on and lick your laptop/tablet/cellphone screens. Me? I eat words on paper. I like acoustic instruments and I like books that smell.
11. Have you received a lot of backlash from BadBadBad? You hit on some pretty rough topics.
Some but not so much. Suffice to say, the book has triggered a range of reactions, most positive, most passionate.
12. You said in one interview that, "the haters tend to hate it with a passion," do you think that those who hate, and share their hate, actually help sales? The whole, any press is good press.
Sales? Surely you jest.
13. You compiled nearly 80 gigabytes of film for the documentary, how did you choose what to include?
At first, the editing process was complicated, searching for connects and just-right juxtapositions and narrative sequences among so many faces, voices, and words. It was easier once I homed in on the sounds. Then I just constructed the film like you'd compose an extended musical work. Once I listened, it was obvious which parts to include and which to cut.
14. It seems as though you're almost angry about how digital the world has become, do you think we're going in a negative direction with how connected we are or does it amplify reality?
I AM NOT ANGRY!!! Maybe we've always been as pathetic as we often appear to be while sucking the digital teat all the livelong day. My biggest problem with e-obsessive/compulsive behavior is that a lot of people seem to have forgotten how (or have simply given up on developing the capacity) to communicate and connect face-to-face, eye-to-eye, skin-to-skin. It seems to me that a lot of us use digital media as a way to tune out, not tune in. Information overload, clickety click culture, always-on oversharing... all that stuff tends to be, I think, a diversion from or disruption to more meaningful nuanced communication, one-on-one connection, healthy sleep patterns, etc. That's a sad misuse of the technology and it makes me feel like too many of us are little more than two-legged hillbilly cyborg dogs.
15. I've never heard of a dating site used for novel research, what went down on OkCupid?
Hunger, hunt, gorge, vomit, repeat.
16. Do you think that being a musician transitions to the way you write? Do you feel that your writing is almost lyrical?
I hope so. Yeah, I think they're connected. They can't not be, right? I've been doing both for so long. My first writing was poetry, so there's that.
17. You're all over the social networks, do you think that they're a necessity in today's self-promotional world?
I guess. I dunno. I'm not sure. I'd like to quit. I guess I would if I wasn't a cyborg dog.
18. What's been the most exciting news you've received about the book, the band, or the film? Each have so many exciting things happening!
Hard to say. Excitement is fleeting, ya know? What goes up... anyway, when you first see your first book in print it can't not feel like something that matters. But then reality kicks in. Do you know how many books are published every year in the United States alone? Still, my favorite moments with the book were probably when a legit critic wrote a thoughtful review and I was like, yes, this writer gets what I was trying to get across and he or she took the time to articulate it. I'm super appreciative for the times that happened. With the band... we just played all three days of this badass Ink n Iron Festival in Long Beach on the Queen Mary, a historic cruise ship, with headliners Iggy & the Stooges and so many other world-class bands. That was an honor. Also, our on-stage partnerships with burlesque dancers are kinda magical dream-come-true experiences. There's nothing like a performance that kills. With the film, getting an acceptance email from the first film fest I applied to was a good day.
19. Are you reading anything that you can't stop telling people about?
Anne Carson's "Autobiography of Red" is kicking my ass and reminding me what language and story can do when you push yourself to write big.
20. What's next for Jesus Angel Garcia?
At this moment, a much-needed vacation with family and old-school friends I haven't seen in way too long. Maybe after that, a new chapter in creative publishing.
Check out his other places on the web, at www.threetimesbad.com and www.badbadbad.net and as always, go "like" the Facebook page for the newest interviews, updates, and pages to chew. www.mourninggoats.com