I wake up on this fine summer morning after a long night of drinking and lay in bed with a cup of coffee to hear some great news from our Texas Governor on public radio: The BP oil catastrophe is really just the Wrath of God.

Fuck you, you ignorant little cockhack. Only two things keep me from peddling my bicycle today down Guadalupe, over to Congress and straight to your office with a backpack full of explosives: 1) Everything I’ve read by St. Thomas Aquinas and 2) The promise by an American Beauty that we will go on a road trip together.

I’ve had that Kerouacian urge to just pick up and go for several weeks now, and we are connected to the Ishi CD release party tonight by just a few hours and I-35. I think there’s a good chance I may be On The Road alone; an inevitable realization for a man who can’t accept the solitary life he maintains between  small government checks & the table scraps left for him by his corporate boss after a long week of labor. Oftentimes I get this compulsive instinct to just take someone’s motorcycle and with no return date just ride, ride as far as I can ride West—but, I’ve got commitments here at The Capital—so a short trip in the Volvo will have to do. And so I call Elise, the beauty I’ve been seeing for a couple of weeks.

But I get no answer.

The Ride will be without that thing that every red-blooded American man needs by his side at the onset of a roadtrip, and in her place I’ve got a photographer with me who is just as burly and as broke as I am. On the upside fuel expenses are being shared and this is fantastic, considering gasoline to Our Kind is almost out-of-price by design. Quality time I’m spending with Sean here in the Volvo, listening to a public radio report about how many people are jumping off of various bridges & what percentage of people want to Off themselves & how bad the economy is & how humans should devalue civility and become more like the animals and such. Instead of being stared down by hellish hair-band fans as we creep along The Road, it’s a yellow line on my side and a white one on his, with nothing but the Texas wildflowers, trees, and farmland flying by on either side as we blaze The Highway.

I fear that I have been absorbing the Austin culture for too long to jump back into the mode I need to for The Story on another electro group rocketing out of Dallas, what with all of the nights listening to Neil Young while driving at a top speed of 40 MPH to see some unknowns Downtown try and thrill me with a harmonica and an acoustic guitar. But as soon as I pull up to a house on Lower Greenville I’m greeted by my old musician-friends & some Shiner Bock & someone jamming on a Korg synthesizer in a back room so I quickly snap right back into it. It is time to go into That Mode, and once a writer does this there’s no turning back; everything is to be consumed that can be consumed—time to “buy the ticket, take the ride.”

It’s been a long while since Paul and I have had a necessarily ruckus night of Fuck All, so we sit down for a moment to catch up in the hour leading to the show.

“So what happened to that girl you said you were bringin’ down?”
“She wouldn’t come; the kind of woman with boots on her feet that cost a week’s worth of labor. Probably belongs beside some Maserati-driving corporate assblaster, anyway,” I tell him with my head tilted back and looking at the violet, city-lit sky.
“Maserati-driving ass blasters, all too familiar with those unfortunately. You mean you can’t afford those girls’ boots working for Mr. Butt?”
“Are you kidding? And it’s goddamn Alfred Hitchcock out there, man, birds keep attacking me,” I complain.
“I can take care of those gracklins with my high-powered pellet rifle, remember it? Took down a squirrel today.”
“Yeah I tried suggesting some population control out there, but they wouldn’t go for it. Everyone’s so goddamn sensitive in Austin.”
“Well, I have one dollar and thirty-five cents right now. It’s been rough, man. I don’t go out anymore, kind’ve over that. Turns out I’m not a socialite,” Paul says as he swills on a beer.
“Well I make a bad socialite myself, because I say whatever the fuck I want. And you can’t do that, see, you have to be real fake and cordial and talk about shit I probably don’t want to talk about. It’s the etiquette of it all.”
“Yeah holding your tongue is ridiculous. Everyone around here has some project that’s just oh so interesting. You’re a DJ? Well everyone’s a DJ, I tell ’em. I don’t want to hear about it.”
“Can’t hold a tongue as sharp as mine, it’ll leave your hand bleeding,” I say.
“That’s alright, so what are the Austin women like?”

* * *


It’s nearing midnight and so we decide to throw our beer bottles overhead somewhere and hop in the Jeep. We head toward Son’s of Herman Hall in Deep Ellum—a white, turn-of-the-century two-story music hall that has, in the past, seen Ray Price and Townes Van Zandt onstage. We park and hurry on a little ways down the cracked pavement and I walk through the line of eager patrons, and look down at my ticket. It reads “open bar,” which I am completely okay with. As I’m looking for the bar, Taylor Rea walks in and past me like she owns the place, wearing a pair of black tights, shimmering gold blouse with gold jewelry and intense make-up transforming her into a Diva. I walk a little further and notice John Mudd in a crowd of people, donning a black fedora over a red headband. He notices me and gives a sleepy nod before I find the downstairs bar. Inside, the ceiling fans are swirling slowly and the Jukebox is playing Stevie Ray Vaughan. In line, I shake hands with some of the more recognizable members of Dallas’ Creative Class before ordering a whiskey.

“Do you have mineral water you can put in that,” I ask the bartender.
“You mean Vitamin Water?”

No goddamnit, I do not. I understand Glacéau is sponsoring the show, but I want my whiskey+mineral water which I do not get, so I frustratingly walk out and past a group of pretty, fashionable girls drinking Heineken and then underneath several Heineken banners and up the carpeted stairs, holding onto the old wooden handrail and finally into the crowded half-lit dance hall where I see a DJ off in a corner with a Macbook Pro playing VEGA for a diverse room of showgoers, who are not really dancing but are waiting patiently for ishi. A few drinks later the DJ has stopped, the smoke machine starts, the lights begin flashing and the diva’s heels click the stage a few times. There is no turning back—I will take everything in for what it is worth, consuming and being consumed—a night of sheer energy. All I need now is more of everything; more pretty women, more liquor, and more stimulants so that I may dance on, dance on manically into the end of the night like everything’s more than fine & nothing the matter & everything so full of lust that the Sun Rise can wait, wait another eternity if it wants to, although I know it won’t. In a culture when yesterday’s news is now only an hour ago, the Morning Sun comes quicker than ever.

Nearly 500 people are packed into the hall now, and the entire front half of the crowd is completely immersed in the show. The smoke machine will not stop—some sort of malfunction maybe—blowing particulates straight through the legs of the Diva and into the faces of those of us at the front. She and John take turns singing over an electronic track, with the drummer keeping up and the guitarist breaking out on his own here and there. Hands are hitting me in the face as I try getting a decent shot of Taylor through the lens of my old Minolta, and the crowd goes especially wild after she sheds some clothes and shakes her hips to begin the band’s locally-infamous cover of The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian.” And then I’m swept into an onrush of fans heading to the stage to dance with the band for their last song, and I have no problem dancing with them.

After the performance, I head through a side door and down a white, rusted metal staircase outside to a gathering area where I’m able to find John, sweaty and glowing in the middle of a crowd of people congratulating him on a great show.

Thom Fain: Is Ishi the origin of electro-folk?
John Mudd: You can’t really say the origin. There are many artists we look up to, as far as electronic folk, like Notwist. Folktronic is just the idea of collaborating acoustic elements with electronic production.
TF: So the Notwist would be one of your bigger influences?
JM: Yeah. They definitely have honed in on a craft or a production style that we think we can put our two-cents in on as well. What we try to do different is encompass a bigger variety of music from dubstep, house, or techno and have an acoustic palette, if you will, on all the songs.
TF: You do a good job in catering to the Dallas audience.
JM: We’ve been very fortunate. It gets down to good songs, a good place of spirit, and we definitely like to gravitate toward uplifting songs that keep spirits high.
TF: Quick question. Pastel Cowboys or Neon Indians?
JM: I’d have to go with Pastel Cowboys [laughs].
TF: Is it easy to mobilize an entire crowd with the energy the way Ishi does?
JM: We’re passionate about our music, we’re passionate about our sound and I think that the audience can see that.
TF: What went into the studio recording that didn’t go into the live act?
JM: Most of the songs we do live are more electronic driven; easier to dance to. On the other half of the record are songs that are more folk-driven, which have electronic production behind it. We like the diversity of appealing to multiple mood-swings and multiple atmospheres. It broadens our horizons in being a complete and diverse band.

Opinions remain divisive on music with a traditional palette that includes electronic components—even 10 years after the release of Radiohead’s Kid A—but what no one can deny is that John and Taylor have a chemistry which allows Ishi a stage presence with that special ability to motivate an entire crowd into dancing, almost instantaneously. And when all you hear in World News is about how everything we’ve built to Create is being Destroyed, dancing to great pop music at the end of your night/daze is one of the more viable alternatives to looking at yourself in a mirror after a long week at work, popping a Prozac & telling yourself ‘job well done’ before going & sitting in a recliner somewhere in front of a 1080p television.