Warren Defever of His Name Is Alive

Return to Never: Revisiting Early His Name Is Alive

During the past year that took so many things away from us, including the catharsis of live music, I’ve increasingly relied on listening to LPs in their entirety, rather than my iPod on shuffle. 

All the Mirrors in the House: Early Recordings 1986-1990 (Disciples), the first of 3 volumes revisiting His Name Is Alive’s earliest cassette experiments, hit a perfect chord for me during this bizarre stasis-time we’re all trapped in; songs like “Piano Rev” feel unstuck in time and fathomless (a very now feeling). But it’s hopeful, too — it reminds me of standing at the edge of Lake Michigan at night for the first time. I just remember this vast, inky black inland sea with no edges, extending as far as the eye could see. It was awesome and transfixing, like staring into deep space. 

Poster given to VO on his 60th birthday, with tributes from Warren Defever, Tanya Donelly, Simon Larbalestier & others. Design: Timothy O'Donnell

Vaughan Oliver, 1957-2019

Vaughan Oliver (4AD/v23)

Graphic design legend Vaughan Oliver (4AD/v23) passed away on December 29, 2019 at the age of 62.

Early on Sunday, December 29, Adrian Shaughnessy of Unit Editions announced, “My friend and design hero Vaughan Oliver died peacefully today, with his partner Lee by his side. Vaughan Oliver, 1957-2019.”

I had a moment of intense disbelief, followed by the ludicrous hope that it was a sick joke of some kind. As the news sank in, I still couldn’t believe it — intense, profane, puckish Vaughan, one of if not THE iconic designer of the 1990s (sorry, Carson, it ain’t you) — was gone far too soon.

From Los Angeles to the Haçienda: The Ballad of Kickboy + Philomena

Philomena and Claude

There is no shortage of charisma (positive and negative) in Decline of Western Civilization — X, Alice Bag Band, the Germs, Black Flag Mach 1.0. But the segment where a certain Claude Bessy — Slash editor, raconteur extraordinaire, Catholic Discipline ringleader — holds court is different; even the hardcore punks look like poseurs next to Claude’s poetically splenetic rants.

Claude, whose poison pen reviews in Slash were signed with the unassailable pseudonym, “Kickboy Face,” is a profane French chain-smoker who is utterly contemptuous of any kind of hipster canonization of punk or any other music form. When “Decline” director Penelope Spheeris asks, “Does Kickboy have a lot of enemies?,” he practically spits out his reply: “I should hope so, otherwise I am wasting my fucking time.”

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