Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stock, Hausen & Walkman

Stock, Hausen & Walkman

Stock, Hausen & Walkman started improvising in the late 1980's, in the UK. The group very often worked with samples, so it's a shame I haven't found more of their records until recently. I first heard of them thanks to their Eerie Materials 7" (1998) and have been exploring some more of their work these past few months. You should, too.

Matt Wand spoke on behalf of the band, and we've got an interview coming up with him in the coming quarter as well, so stay tuned for that. He was a founding member, with Rex Casswell, in the UK, in 1987. Andrew Sharpley and Dan Weaver soon joined them, and eventually it was just Wand and Sharpley.

(pictured, left to right: Dan Weaver, Matt Wand, Rex Caswell, Andrew Sharpley)

The group was active, in various configurations, for around 15 years. Their last record was released in 2000, and there is as yet no news of a reunion. They released 7 or 8 albums, a few singles and several remixes for artists such as Buffalo Daughter and People Like Us. Check out their discography HERE.

They were the artists behind the Hot Air record label, as well (since 1991), releasing work by Otomo Yoshihide, Janek Schaefer, Dummy Run, People Like Us and of course Stock, Hausen & Walkman. Most recently, Matt Wand released a solo record on Hot Air, as Small Rocks. The CD was titled "Carbondating". Check out Hot Air on the web HERE.

As I just mentioned, Wand has continued as a solo artist, releasing things under different aliases (such as Small Rocks and Stahlgren & Ferguson). He's done numerous commissions for art installation and exhibition, as well, and is responsible for much of the artwork featured on various Hot Air releases.

Without further ado here's the SAR Q&A with Stock, Hausen & Walkman's Matt Wand...

*Name: Stock, Hausen & Walkman

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: The illiterate or lazy among us (and I include myself) sometimes put SH&W or nearer might be SHAW (pronounced Pssshaww!! with an emphasis on the skeptical and dismissive tone of that sound).

*Do you use a pseudonym? Despite how it may seem 'Matt Wand' is the name I was born with (well, Matthew actually) but I can own up to hiding behind the dubious Outfits 'Small Rocks' 'Stahlgren & Ferguson' and a few others that might seem obvious on closer inspection.

*Members: Well NONE since 2002 when the plug was pulled, but originally 2 (Myself & Rex Casswell) then 4 (Dan Weaver & Andrew Sharpley joined) then 3 (Rex left) then 2 again (Dan went to Germany and we willfully ignored him as he was getting too much girl action and generally having far too good a time over there.) [What are the full names of each member?] I think that’s been covered apart from middle names, which I'm not sure I ever knew apart from mine which is David. Oh! no... wait I remember… Andrew’s is Quentin which in some ways is quite an awful middle name, way too upper class and just begging to be mocked… but then again there is Quentin Blake whose illustrations for the Uncle Books I love… so maybe not so bad?

*Founding Members: Me & Rex Casswell, I put myself first as I thought up the name which is an atrociously bad pun BUT did kind of describe all we were about at the time... Firstly, we wanted to drag 'so called' high brow experimentalism down to the level of bad disco commercialism (Stockhausen represented and indeed still represents the most idiotic egomaniacal pompous facade to gloss over what is after all the kind of experimenting that anyone with a taperecorder and the luxury of free time & a brain can noodle away at and present the results now and again. It was hilarious when he popped his clogs and shuffled off to the lederhosen shop in the sky and every one started coming out of the woodwork saying how much they respected and admired him, in Manchester alone there was a deluge of performances of Stockhausen pieces in the academic establishments that did little but reveal the transparent silliness and pseudo-mystical conservative anti-intellectualism of the bulk of his work. Of course Those establishments didn't really touch his earlier (listenable) electronic works as that would mean calling in 'outsiders' with some of the long ignored (by them) knowledge of electronic music and they are only interested in giving a platform and work to their own so called 'Qualified' musicians not scruffy herberts that know their way around an oscillator… That’s how it is in the UK, always with the class war of some kind… Hope it’s better in the US). The Walkman bit was A) because we were poor and couldn't even conceive of having motor vehicles so our dream was to be able to get the bus to a gig and play with stuff that we could pull out of our coat pockets when we got to the venue, a dream of ultimate portability that is finally with us today which is a good job as I'm poor again and scrapped my car 6 months ago… plus B) Notoriety (and hence Fame) in those days seemed to come quickly from being sued by a big company and I thought that Mr. Sony might do that job for us..

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: Any, All and much much more or less… We had no set way of manipulating sound, cassette pause button edits & 4 track layering had been the way for most (including myself) since the mid seventies… In the end, my own 'live' technique was 2 split channel cassette players that contained all kinds of turntable & pause button & drum-machine 'n' FX style manipulations that were siphoned thru a 4 button switchboard to re-cut-up the sounds into a 4 second sampler with the spring taken out so that further triggering, slowing down, speeding up etc could be done realtime to that live cut-up… Mr. Sharpley favoured fast forward/rewind button cassette scratching of prepared cutup tapes. Rex and Dan were more instrumentalists with guitar and cello but were no less interesting or 'Cut-Up' in their thinking/performing (especially Rex Casswell, where are you Rex?? Think he might have hurt himself with his cut-up thinking).

*Another genre descriptor: I think Vicki (Bennett) said it, when she said that the word Collage has been in use for this sort of thing for over a century, she's right and I think Sharpley with his slightly more formal 'arts' education is a big fan of the word and the act of 'Collage'. Myself, I'm more a child of the Grey Underground so I go with the Gysin/Burroughs term 'Cut-Ups' as a brief, I can't speak for them really but I'm betting Rex & Dan would just say 'Improvising' and I like that one too, especially if it’s applied to the thought processes rather than just the anti-formal musical act, you can go a long way (as Mr. Oswald has proved) by re-badging what you do with a nifty moniker but that’s really just glib journalism or perhaps having some fun at the expense of Glib/lazy Journalists. The works themselves are what is important when yr in the mood to listen to that sort of thing, hopefully there aren't too many people that claim: "I only listen to Plunderphonics!"

*Is there a story behind your name? (See the answer to “Founding Members” above)

*Location: 2 from Manchester & 2 from Louth (Lincolnshire), hence the continuous fluctuation between Pastoral Beauty and Industrial Horribleness in the music.

*Original Location:

*What is your creative/artistic background: I could really only inform you properly about my own background and I don't feel that’s so important or even interesting in this context.

*History: Well, it’s a bit vague, I think the start of it was sometime in 1989-90 but Me and Rex had been working together within the 'purist improvisor' tyranny of another group with 3 other people for a year or so before we made a break for it… So, it could be as early as 1987?? The early incarnation of Me & Rex was Called '23 Women Artists' before the SH&W name, because cynically I figured we would get a good arts council grant with that name! As for myself (and probably the rest of them) I'd been tinkering with drum machines, echo boxes, 4 tracks etc in various groups and solo bedroom things since 1979, most notoriously (and completely invisibly to the outside world) W2F, a fluctuating combo based around myself with various anti-musical mates popping in to get weird here and there, with 4 cassette releases to its name (chronologically: Rehearsing Punk Jazz, Art-Itch, Original Soundtrack to 'The Southern Vegetable Mystery, We Help!) none of which were in editions of more than 10 and hence destined to remain in the lost sock drawer of history where it belongs. Nevertheless I regard those early experiments in obtuse cassette packaging as the seed-bed for Hot Air's future fancy graphicsophilia. OOPS! I already said that’s not interesting in this context and then go all misty eyed with senile memories of teenage artsy-fartsy bedroom antics, oh well, if you’re reading this the chances are you too are or once were an artsy-fartsy teenage bedroom dweller and you'll indulge this old git’s ramblings.

*Born: Is this a Tax Form??

*Motivations: I think at the time it was 'Other Interesting People' and mostly, but not all, those making noises. Particularly those making noises that we thought we could emulate to some extent without spending a few years in college to do so OR those doing things close to what we were already attempting ourselves. You don't want to feel entirely alone in what you are doing even if you are looking for something 'New'. At that time there were only a few people (let’s call them DOTS) that we could be aware of that between those DOTS mapped out an area we felt drawn towards. These days of course it’s almost impossible to do anything or even 'Be Interested' in anything that isn't already Mapped out, Blogged up, Contextualized and downloadable on the internet. That sense of a 'private' activity or thought process is very hard to come by now. I want to mention the US grouping 'Meltable Snaps It' and David Moss's duets album 'Full House' because recently I've been listening to that old stuff and loving it and remembering how much those people pointed us in a certain direction way back at the beginning. Obviously with 4 people's listening habits contributing to the 'Influences' mix there is no one source of inspiration... but I'd like to give a shout to Mike & the long defunct Decoy Records shop because back then your musical education didn't come from the ether… it relied on independent record shops that were prepared to stock really obscure and potentially unsaleable records... and I guess another shout should go out to all those physical formats like cassette, vinyl, CD because it was the existence of those formats and the few interesting people that had used those Audio/visual platforms in such crazy belligerent ways that made us want to do it so desperately ourselves.

*Philosophy: OK, you want philosophy now... well, here's a thought that may or may not be relevant... "MP3 is a codec designed to remove 'redundant' audio information, to make a sound file 5 to 10 times smaller, in effect to create 'MUSIC-lite' - a kind of diet music in which all the sound information our ears supposedly don't need to hear is removed. What I don't understand is why this Codec hasn't been developed further... how much better would it be if the software truly stripped out all the redundant material, Beethoven’s 5th reduced down to its first 4 notes, a repetitive dance hit cut right down to the one repeating loop that is its main constituent? Think how fast these files would be to download & how much less irrelevant or banal sound would be polluting our ears."

*How would you like to be remembered:
As one of the often forgotten.

*Web address:


Unknown said...

Loved those guys. Thanks for putting this up. Did the upcoming interview take place yet?

Jon Nelson said...

Hey Joe,
Thanks for the comment. And yes, the phone interview with Matt Wand of Stock, Hausen & Walkman aired in December of 2009. Check it out here:

Thanks for listening,