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Arts, Books, Music

Interview with Rick Trembles

Posted by Ralph / July 31, 2009

20090731-ricktrembles.jpgMontreal-based cartoonist and musician Rick Trembles has been hailed as a hardworking twisted genius by "journalists", fellow-musicians and legendary figures such as Robert Crumb.

Motion Picture Purgatory Volume 2 is Rick's second collection of "comic-strip concoctions configured to critique film" and it recently came out on Fab Press.

1) Mark Lepage (The Gazette) once reviewed your band as "too weird to succeed". Comment please.

Perfectly typifies what's probably the general consensus regarding everything my band's involved in to the uninitiated. It presupposes there's a prescribed level of monetary or institutionalized "success" one has to aspire to & qualify for before being deemed worthy or "serious." Success to me is when I finish a project & am actually pleased with the results (& I am VERY hard to please). I have a compulsion to create no matter how few resources I've got at my disposal, but most people are conditioned to dismiss anything that hasn't been overproduced & experience allergic reactions to any kind of rawness, mistaking it for damaged goods (whether it's comix, movies, or music). My dream scenario has always been for these eccentric projects of ours to be "successful" enough to spawn even more elaborate projects I can pride myself on but according to backhanded forewarnings such as Lepage's, the self-sabotaged proof is already in the pudding. The flavour of that pudding's apparently an acquired taste but I wouldn't know cuz I've been wallowing in it for decades & as a result my taste buds are jaded. People's thresholds are different, what can I say? To this day, whenever something turns my crank, I can't understand why on earth the rest of the planet's cranks aren't turning in unison. I don't consider myself abnormal so I figure whatever I like should be readily accessible for the rest of humanity to enjoy. Lepage either thinks I'm delusional or deliberately living in my own world.

2) You said somewhere that you've always (or mostly) done what you wanted, musically speaking and artistically speaking, but that you never made (big) money out of it. Honestly, do you think there'd be any chances that you could make big bucks with what you're doing?

I'd like to know where you got that quote because it might've been misread. For a long time I've maintained that I'd be happy enough to simply be able to fund future projects. I'd like to be a self-perpetuating machine where whatever we do makes enough money back to put into our next creative endeavour. I live very modestly. I usually blow whatever spare money ends up in my pocket on far-fetched projects of mine/ours. For the band in particular, my dream was to be able to at least release 2 or 3 singles a year & tour maybe once a year to an appreciative audience. But after 30 years, despite doing everything I could within my means, still nobody knows who we are outside of a handful of people in Montreal.

3) You're definitely not the kind of conventional "law-abiding artist". What are (according to you) some of the worst things people are taught in art schools?

To avoid controversy.

4) On the cover of The Electric Vomit's 7" that was released last year (originally from 1979), you seem to be strumming a Rickenbacker guitar. How did you manage to buy one of these in those days?

Sorry to disappoint you but that thing was actually a cheap Ibanez built to LOOK like a Rickenbacker bass guitar. It was a bitch to carry because the large protrusion poking outta the body meant it wouldn't fit inside a regular guitar case & also made it weigh a lot & poke into my chest whenever I played it. The Stratocaster I got after that was a million times dreamier & I've been playing that one ever since.

5) The first time I met you/said hi, was at Fantasia during the screening of "Zoo". What did you think of that movie.

Was that the doc about the guy who got impaled to death by horse dick? Great movie but I was I trying real hard to hold in my laughter at some parts. I know it was treated dead seriously & downbeat but when we finally meet the horses in question they come across shot like a romantic Hallmark Card for bestiality buffs.

6) You're a well respected musician and cartoonist. You're also into extremely "weird" stuff. Since 1+1=3, tell me about some of the weirdest/wildest/most memorable encounters your mediums have enabled you to make.

One of my most graphically sexual biographical comics I self-published years ago got responded to in the form of an illustrated letter from someone residing in a protective shelter for battered women. The crude drawings were very primitive but highly sexualized; depicting abducted young girls in bondage being defecated on among other things. The woman said she'd do anything for me & insisted I was part of a satanic cult that she wanted to join (even thought there were no satanic references in my piece). I took this as a cue to initiate a comix jam with her & wrote back with a blank pre-paneled comix page where I started a story in the first panel & was hoping she'd continue because I was fascinated by her drawings. But unfortunately my letter was returned to sender unopened because that particular shelter wouldn't allow incoming contact from the outside world.

7) Since you've seen people and trends come and go, tell me a bit about what/who you think will go/stay (musically, artistically etc).

I don't care who comes or goes. I keep what I like, from an anonymous doodle found crumpled on the sidewalk to an online photo of Britney Spears' split beaver. Doesn't matter where it's from. I rarely listen to music anymore cuz I can't afford to buy records. Whatever I get I download & it's usually old obscure garbage. I'd rather play music in my own band or go see my friends' bands.

8) On that comp. that I bought upon our first meeting, there's a live track that dates back to the early 80s and you guys are obviously playing out of town and one of you says: "We're The American Devices, it's our first time here in Canada, great country you got there, this song is called The Drugs We Take". Do you remember what followed...any pro-Canada heckler???

We were just joking, that was recorded live here at Foufounes (when it was called Zoobar before Foufounes). I remember not many people at that show cuz it happened to be the same night as The Gun Club's first Montreal show up the street & all our fucking friends went to see them instead of us. Later that night when they told us how life-altering the Gun Club show was I got jealous & wished I'd been there instead of being stuck playing to nobody with my band.

9) How did you end up striking a deal with Fab Press?

I stalked the publisher one year when he was in town for the Fantasia Film Festival.


Photo via Rick's website

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