RECORDING UNDER THE INFLUENCE: Pink Skull On … Jack Kirby, ‘Shrooms, Anthony Burgess and Sean Connery’s Craziest Movie

[Photo by Jody Rogac]

Recording Under the Influence is a recurring self-titled feature where we ask artists to ignore their musical inspirations for a minute and share what really went into the making of a particular record. In this week’s installment, Pink Skull‘s Julian Grefe reveals his double life as a sci-fi nerd and the kooky second coming of LCD Soundsystem. That’s at least what we took away from the psychedelic dance tracks on Endless Bummer, the first proper LP from one of our favorite underground labels, RVNG.

1. Jack Kirby
I spent the better part of my childhood reading and collecting comics. I started out by inheriting a bunch from my father. When I was out of school on sick leave (which was pretty often), he’d also come home with a couple to keep me occupied. This was long before TVs were common in a kid’s room and before there was even a whiff of cable in the air. (At least in our neck of the woods.) I favored the more outlandish and science fiction-y stuff. Soon I’d make my way to comic stores and that’s where I got my first back issues of New Gods and Forever People. I had a copy of How To Draw Comics the Marvel Way and was a huge fan of Kirby’s drawings, but then I got way into the pantheon of super beings he created and his army of characters that never really seemed to sit well with the general public. Looking back, the dialogue is pretty atrocious but the storylines and the whole look are still top notch. I read somewhere that Kirby didn’t really care who inked his stuff.  Weird.

2. Zardoz
Another one from my old man. He would often tell me to keep an eye out on late night TV for this gem–the best/worst movie he’d ever seen. I was a huge Sean Connery fan/sci-fi nerd and longed to see this movie for years. It was kept on this pedestal in my mind with Holy Mountain and El Topo. I was totally fascinated by the possibilities of these movies. And finally, after something like 10 years of hearing about it, I saw it in college–saw all of them, actually. WOW. My father neglected to tell me it was a Boorman film, whose work I find to be highly psychedelic in appearance. The look and feel of the movie stands in total contrast to its lack of budget (they supposedly blew it all on Connery’s fee) and what results is this fairly silly, visually appealing, dystopian future film which reminds me of when you are soooooo stoked that you’re about to take acid and see GOD, but instead you end up staring at a heat ring on the coffee table and trying to knock kaleidoscoping stained glass images of Taco Bell uniforms out of your mind.

3. ‘Shrooms
I guess this one is up there for most people. I think??? After 30, you really just shouldn’t take acid anymore. Unless you’re a millionaire on a beach in the South Pacific or something. There’s just too many holes to fall into when you have to get up and go to work the next day. Not saying that acid and ‘shrooms are innately similar, but they are both hallucinogens and can produce some pretty profound effects. And what’s to say really, if you know then you KNOW. Y’know?

4. Anthony Burgess
Besides writing two of my favorite books as a teen–A Clockwork Orange and Kingdom of the Wicked–the man was an expert linguist and a composer to boot. I think I found his mastery of language really intriguing. Here was a a man who not only was a master of English as a written language, but the spoken language also, as well as several others; he actually CREATED totally new languages in his work (A Clockwork Orange and Quest for Fire). And he was one of the leading Joycean Scholars. Burgess’ “The Key to Unlocking Finnegans Wake actually convinced me I could read the book at the age of 18, having finished Ulysses that year and feeling pretty fucking smart. God, what a pretentious little turd I was. It’s been on my reread list for many years now and I feel that I probably still can’t digest most of it. Well, here’s to lofty aspirations.

5. Rankin/Bass’ Stop Motion Holiday Specials
I don’t know why the type of animation used on Rudolph and The Year Without a Santa Claus wasn’t used in anything other than what appears to be about 10 holiday specials, but I wish it had. It is seriously some of the weirdest, trippiest shit ever. I’ve watched them religiously as TV specials and on VHS and now I own the DVD collection. There’s just some je ne sais quoi that transcends the sum of its parts about these things. Sometimes I wish everything looked like these.