diaries: the lab, chicago, 1997.

I'm writing these words at home. We fly to Chicago tomorrow morning. I've been involved in this project for several months now and it is exhilarating to see it come to fruition. Whatever happens (ten hours is a long time), Stephen Collins has etched his way into my personal hall of fame. Why? How many people respond to an idle banter about,"aw gee, I'd play for ten hours," in such a dynamic way?
He's done it!

Along the route we've asked ourselves many questions, but Stephen has always said,"no problem." I dreamt about this show a month or so ago. That's usually a positive sign. It means (I think) that I'm preparing myself. Today I realised that too much of my preparation had been taken up with pesky niggles about equipment. I suddenly started to think about this event as a piece of art. Several years ago in my day job back in Sunderland, we set up a huge canvas in a recreation centre in the middle of the city and asked anyone that came by to contribute to the creation of a combined painting. No rules, gallons of paint, twenty feet of mounted canvas. The goal was to promote our work as Occupational Therapists by engaging an "audience" in an activity. Later we got around to making huge ships, again as a participative public event. Strange but wonderful times.

Once we remove the performance of music from the dank confines of the "club", we set up an interesting dynamic: The capacity to interact with the audience in an unfettered way. The Lab web-cast concert is a significant milepost in my musical "career." Stephen has promised some surprises. I guarantee surprises! I'll speak to you from the windy city.

Chicago Limbo
Mark...I'm sitting behind Stephen Collins' computer flanked to my left by David Marine and my right by Eric Pounder. We look East over the Chicago Skyline, Sears Tower soaring as high as ever and to the west,the United Centre,playing host to the Chicago Bulls. Eric is wiring a gaggle of guitars to the ceiling. David's theremin has apparently been receiving loud disco music. It's a warm pleasant spring evening.

Hello, David Marine here: Reception problem has been solved, all that's left for me is to hook up the laser projector to the theremin. Very excited about the performance tomorrow and the interactivity this new medium will afford us. And as always I am just delighted at the opportunity to work with Mark again. There is a great vibe down here at the Lab. Steve Collins is great guy and has done a amazing job of bringing this whole complicated technological performance to fruition.

Eric Pounder continues: In the world of art, some things only get produced through the collective effort of individuals who are dedicated to getting the job done without selfish and ego-centric motives. This is such an event. Already people have lent their abilities and resources to making this happen and now their labor is coelescing into the kind of activity usually only associated with a large budget movie. I am honored to be a part of this event and happy to be amongst a group of people who are doing and not just talking.

4/26/97 The Lab, Chicago, April 26, 1997The Lab, Chicago , April 26, 1997,
Chicago This Very Second....

What can I say? I feel like I should be upstairs playing with Eric, David and David, but it's my turn to take five. This is an exhilarating experience. sheer volcano of feelings going through my mind. One minute confusion, next ectasy, hatred, anger, love, warmth, but an overall spirit of camaraderie. The guys are monitoring the hits here, and we have all sorts of countries in the world listening in right now as I write. Stephen gave me a Blackhawks sweater, and I'm proudly wearing it. As I write, Chelios and co are hopefully beating the crap out of the Avalanche. Who I would like if it wasn't for Claude Lemieux. and the fact that everyone loves a loser. Four hours to go, I think. Will write later and I'll get lots of other people here to call in.

Chicago, 20 minutes into the future:
One half hour left . Endurance shows 1 , Dead Voices On Air 1. Score: draw. Can anyone tell me if the Blackhawks won? I am lost for words. Ijust want to thank everyone who has faith in this project. I can't tell you how REAL this actually feels in comparison to (as Stephen puts it) the COCK rock machismo associated with the awfully deadening world of rock music. Tall trees. Long sands. From the desert to the pacific. Great plains. Exit.

Chicago then...
The Lab, Chicago, April 26, 1997
As soon as the webcast finished last night I spoke to Christopher from MB Media in Austin who engineered the technical side of the event . He relayed me onto the dv on line chat page, as we couldn't get through all night (it was busy). It was really good to speak to friends and loved ones. That's what this whole thing is about. I'm sick and tired of the selfishness and insincerity inherant to the music business. Those who seem to consider themselves the most adept at controlling it's machinations seem to be the most sucessful.(at least in business terms, often as people they seem little else than pale fragments of who they were before "success" came their way). I say all of this because no-one involved in this event gives a monkeys uncle about "success." Our only yardstick was to create the potential to make music for 10 hours. It was only after the event that we began to sit back and analyse the facts:

The Lab, Chicago,  April 26, 1997
images courtesy "LabCam", copyright 1997.

That a guy in a small Pacific Island took the trouble to broadcast the event there.That people in France, New Zealand and South Africa all logged on. It was a collective piece of art.The billing said Dead Voices On Air, but it was the work of many people. People who will all profit by being involved in this project. Not financial gain. Not even popularity. No, the gains were focussed around a personal commitment to art and a spirit of endeavour.Comradeship. The fact remains,we all gained something from this project: Friends. ...and that, my dear reader, is worth more than anything else. I hope that lots of information will be generated from this project. That it will be the first of many partnerships with the Lab. Please check out the Lab's website and support their work. It really is an artists run facility.

ps: we're going to tour this year.

April 28th 1997
Chicago in retrospect
I've been blessed to meet and work with some inspiring musicians. Blessed because, as I've said a thousand times, I'm no musician! I make sounds. I don't know my way around my equipment. It's all hugely uninteresting to me. Blessed because some people have taken the time to teach me,to show perseverance and understanding. Blessed because I have had the opportunity to record and release cds. To play music live. I want to say that I approach my art in a spirit of exploration. That I don't need to do this and that sooner or later I will stop doing this because I will get bored. As a visual artist I've exhibited. As a musician I've released CDs. I've done this to prove that anyone can do it. I get sent wonderful tapes and beautifully inspiring works of visual art. Time and time again, my thoughts return to the same place... We need access to art. Art is not under the ownership of the skilled and elite. It's benefits are there for all to grasp. To seize. What matters is the spirit of community that one can engender by taking these steps together, with friends and family. What matters is that people such as those associated with The Lab in Chicago can create a community dedicated to the dissemination of art. To overcome problems together. There is far too much emphasis and responsibility placed on the shoulders of musicians. I've never consciously courted that . I've stopped reading articles about my work, reviews, newsgroup postings and the like. I don't feel gifted nor important. I simply feel honoured to have worked with everyone who has crossed my path. Humbled I guess. I want to make these issues clear because of the wedges that occasionally get driven in the paths of those that I care about. The Lab Show was a turning point for me, emotionally and practically. Emotionally, because I was able to connect with people, to engender warm and hopefully lasting relationships and practically, because we were able to pull it off. I'm never going to play another concert where we enter into power dynamics with those involved. I'm never going to play a headlining role. If we tour,we tour with a group of musicians from other bands and we share the bill. We play together,alternating roles,alternating bands in a seamless event. With people such as David Wright, Eric Pounder and David Marine. Not Breathing, Pounder and DVOA sharing the same stage at the same time. Playing music together,that will sound like DVOA one minute, Pounder the next and Not Breathing the next. At times the show will sound like a perfect blend of the three bands. I can't think of a more exciting combination. The Lab Show was erroneously billed as a DVOA concert. In actuality it was everything that I have just written about. Much credit has to be given to the three musicians mentioned above. Invisible Records has done everything within their power to facilitate this hybridised approach to collaboration and as such must also take a bow. Thanks to everyone who made the event possible. To all at the Lab, to those such as Craig and Tim who travelled great distances to join us. To Stephen Collins for his faith and productivity. For being a great friend. To Noah, who spent a great deal of his waking hours ferrying us around Chicago. To MB Media. To the listeners and viewers for their endurance, and finally to Team DVOA, namely Aaron and Kris, whose tireless work and endurance inspired me.
with much love,

Mark Spybey.
Vancouver. April 28th, 1997.

(doing) (being) (melding)