Updated: Mar 1
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
The following is from a conversation over two days before and after Christmas 2020
LONN: BEFORE TODAY, would you call it your best record now? you called it a "spectacular failure" in 2010, what do you think "After today"?
ARIEL: Before Today has grown on me over the years. its alright, still not my fav. better than the one after (Mature Themes) in my opinion
LONN: Why didn't you dig Before Today at first?
ARIEL: I have bad memories of the time period.
LONN: it's extremely telling that a musical fiend such as yourself completely shut it down for close to 6 years
ARIEL: that was 5 years before the band imploded during the recording of before today. it was up to me alone to salvage the material and save it from being an utter abortion.
LONN: How did that happen? Thats with Tim?
ARIEL: there was a rift between band members and the producer i brought in. they tried to talk down the points he was asking for because they calculated he would be gettng more points than they each assumed they would be getting- this was an assumption on their part- they assumed i would split our allotment points evenly between us - so i had to quit the band.
its boring shit really. just band politics. members thought they had more say than they did and i had to sink the ship and start over.
its not shit worth talking about.
LONN: Oh I think it is, my man.
ARIEL: the point is there was never a band. the project has always been solo and the musicians overplayed their hand in running things a certain way.
LONN: So because they learned your music they thought it was theirs??
ARIEL: yes. being able to learn the parts on their own was a prerequisite for being in the band.
LONN: Of course it would be if that was the agreement and no it doesn't sound silly, they're "professionals"
ARIEL: but thats what u get when u dont run your ship like a dictator - u give everyone a gun and they all start to believe they actually run the thing. they actually believed they were looking out for ME. That's what i get for not being a Nazi from the get go.
LONN: Well THAT music is personal. They needed to be an extension of you in a way.
ARIEL: it's the same in any organization.
look at whats happening in this country dude.
i didnt know how to run a band when i started - my approach was largely transparent and democratic- even splits across the board - i thought they would appreciate how good a boss i was. but all it meant to them was that they were equally valuable.
LONN: Like Kenny & Tim for example would've been most valuable?
ARIEL: Duh of course LOL, Tim & Kenny yeah...later they got me sued.
LONN: 2012 yeah?
ARIEL: when they threatened to leave if i didnt fire aaron. little were any of us aware that i couldnt fire any of them.
LONN: wow why not?
ARIEL: Because of their claim that everything was coequal. but their was never any written contract and any business between 2 or more people in california without one gets treated automatically as a co-ownership.
LONN: What the ???
ARIEL: they had equal pay- they each signed the contract with 4AD. the case could be made...ultimately it was my mistake for believing they were protecting my interests if i was protecting theirs..
LONN: once they saw "Round and Round" take off and everyone started going through your discography, they saw green?
ARIEL: no...well before that. i reformed the band for live shows after i quit the band during the Before Today sessions...just for live though
LONN: you said you had to "save Before Today from being an abortion", why was that? why did songs like "L'Estat", "Revolutions a lie", "Beverly Kills" fail in the studio???
ARIEL: i said i quit -i didnt fire anyone ( i couldnt if i wanted to) but i was still on the hook to deliver a record to the label.
LONN: ahhh i see, did you choose those songs out of a bunch including the Sit N Spin material??
ARIEL: i had demos/recordings for all those tracks on Before Today dating from all the way back to 2002. the band had been playing them live for 4-5 years leading up to our being signed
i toured nonstop between 2004 -2010
LONN: i knew all of em were old tracks (demos blow the mind + studio stuff s a trip) just wondering why that was the time for those songs out of all the material you had?
ARIEL: because they knew that material...and it hadnt seen release.
LONN: while all that inner band turmoil was going on, you still had to put together the album...(Tim Koh on recording BEFORE TODAY: “It was a nightmare to record,” says Koh. “It got so bad, I quit,and Cole quit. So we ended up recording most of it again at my house just to fix all the shit that producer Sunny Levine did wrong.”)
ARIEL: it was a process...i had to turn it Into something... none of the band even performed on "Hot Body Rub"
LONN: Gonzalez brothers!
ARIEL: yep among others.
LONN: what was the first part of that process, trying to sift through your sessions in the studio and you doing all overdubs?
ARIEL: kinda yeah just me and the producer. then he (Sunny Levine) flew the coup and i had to wrangle him to hand over the sessions with the promise i would make the material sound good...and I did.
LONN: how did that happen? he was giving up on the sessions? were the lyrics unfinished for "Round and Round" at that point?
ARIEL: "Round and Round" was more or less in the bag by that point. i had him send me clean mixes to the songs mixed to the best of his abilities and worked off those. I didn't even have access to the full session for overdubs, final mix etc.
LONN: the disrespect must've been hard to take man, i'm sorry you had to go through that shit.
ARIEL: The disrespect is constant and growing...there are almost as many people that suck now than dont...its your generation and the ones below...totally depraved and self righteous ideologues who are actively engaged in the destruction of the US.its deeply upsetting to me. they want to overwhelm authorities in every domain. total patricide...
LONN: Same type of thinking that went into them trying to steal your music?
ARIEL: people are piranahs
LONN: you now possess your entire catalog though right? with all the Ariel Archives releases Mexican Summer has it all now?
ARIEL: i never didnt... ive always owned the copyright, with the exception of the 3 4AD records. they own the masters which is fine. its fine - i get paid handsomely for the rest of my life as long as they own them. The rest I license.
LONN: you worked the system
ARIEL: I get paid for them for 10 years (the 3 4AD albums, Before Today, Mature themes and Pom Pom) once they break even. i didnt work the system. the system works for anyone who works...not for long though. the way things are going.
LONN: Where do you see the landscape for artists when your next album drops??
ARIEL: we will know within 3 months whether there will be such a thing as a drop ever again, it's the end dude.
LONN: You thinkin (it is)?
ARIEL: total apocalypse of capitalist democracy. the people decided - you all fell for it.
LONN: we'll see, Biden is definitely not inspiring confidence from me 100%
ARIEL: its like nothing anyone has ever seen. theres nothing. the US is over as far as im concerned. the only thing keeping it together or making it seem that way is trump being in office at this very moment... biden is the end. come jan 20 that curtain will fall and fall hard just watch
LONN: there's been a big push by some PC elites to take over, but come on Trump is shit. have these apocalyptic vibes led to anything musical like when you did "Witch hunt Suite for WWIII" (saw it live in 2012 in salt lake!)??
ARIEL: you all think its just another day and election
LONN: No, I don't think that. The stakes were at their highest.
ARIEL: anyone who voted democratic in this election is unforgivably ignorant or evil in my opinion....unforgivably. anyone who isnt out on public media risking their reputations, jobs and ass is partly responsible for letting it happen - we are all germans now. that goes for R. Stevie as much as for anyone...
LONN: so was there a schism between you and R. Stevie Moore over the election?
ARIEL: i have a schism with everyone i know save a few converts.
LONN: No more friendship with Panda Bear, John Maus, those guys?
ARIEL: i wont talk to them. no one else cares enough to even look into it. john maus is on my team...but even he is scared to come out and say hes a trump supporter.
anyone who loves their fellow man and loves themselves and loves their loved ones and loves their life voted for trump.
only adult babies with an axe to grind would vote for biden - manipulated dupes of the toppest tier of the 1% of the worlds wealth. people who care about what other people think of them vote for biden.
LONN: is this going to spark a new Ariel phase like the Thin White Duke for Bowie?
ARIEL: Dude please, they all suck! They killed their parents
LONN: you should use this feeling into your next project though.
ARIEL: practically everyone ive ever respected has been outed to be a sham. I am actually. but for real, not thinking about making art at the moment
LONN: really? I know you said that earlier this year at points but I'm shocked.
ARIEL: art is a privilege, we have to keep the world safe for art.
LONN: what about the feeling of hearing all that old stuff again man? doesn't that make you have this urge, like i know you compulsively wrote songs, i know that feeling where you just have to. but i know the feeling of it not needing to be a part of your life anymore either, a higher purpose and others don't get it.
ARIEL: dude right now the past is only serving to lull us asleep or distract us from the very real enemy that is upon us
LONN: Your voice is needed now more than ever, Ariel, your music is a gift.
ARIEL: nowhere near giving up. the fight is worth it. and music is a given. sometimes u need to keep it close to ur chest to remind others not to take what u give for granted.
get up and get out there and protect this goddam country from being taken from u !
That's my only message.
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc LLC
Thank you Ariel! One of the last great musicians of our time
BY LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2020 Uninterrupted Writings Inc LLC