THE STUPOR SOUND EXPERIENCE
“The Stupor Sound Experience” (TSSE) is an extension of Stupor, my longstanding zine project. As a three-piece noise ensemble, we create a performative context for my stories, most of which I collect from people that I meet at bars here in Hamtramck, Michigan.
In 2015, I began experimenting with the form of my stories by breaking phrases into verse and stanzas. The project resulted in a book-length collection of narrative poems entitled Wasted. The book follows the rise and fall of two heroic alcoholics whose lives are characterized by thirst, desire, and drunken distress. There is an urgency to these narratives. Nothing in them is precious. I had trouble imagining how I might perform the works as poetry. Even the word “poetry” seems foreign to them. Thus, TSSE was born. Plugged in, and turned up, we provide an audio texture to the narratives.
In TSSE, we utilize instruments that have been thrown away. Last year, I found an electric guitar in the alley, sticking out of a garbage can. The fret board was split and separated all down the neck. I clamped it back together and applied some construction adhesive. The tuning pegs are still broken and require a wrench to tighten. The gears slip too. My drum kit is also an alley-find. One of my neighbors who was moving seemed to be throwing away his whole life. Like the characters in Wasted, my instruments are broken and beat up but still have a voice and a story to tell.
TSSE is not a band. We are an experiment in sound. I weave sticks through the strings of my guitar. I hit various parts of its body with drumsticks, then scrape the frets with drywall knives. I start quietly and build intensity, laying out a ragged din of noise that emphasizes the rhythmic structure of my vocals. I pound on the drums then hammer the butt of my guitar against the floor. The sound is filled in by Chris Peters who backs me on guitar. His signal runs through a complex series of effects pedals managed by Nick Cicchetti. The audio component they add is ambient and soaring then harsh with sudden cathartic surges. Together we embrace confusion. We build toward cataclysm. Ultimately, TSSE provides a new visceral framework for the stories in Stupor.