danmilligan

Judith

In Uncategorized on February 6, 2020 at 8:58 pm

Towards the end of my senior year of high school, a friend and I somehow wound up walking around our old middle school. We hadn’t been there since the end of 8th grade, so we were just having some fun by wandering around the building to see how things had changed.

As we were walking, we ran into a teacher that both of us had in 7th grade. She was not my favorite teacher. In fact, she was probably my *least* favorite.

During the course of my time in her classroom, I saw her unapologetically reduce several of my classmates to tears. I wouldn’t say she had favorite students, but she CLEARLY had least favorites, and her demeanor constantly let everyone know who was who. Singling out kids who were having trouble with her class, she would loudly, and comically predict their futures for the class. She would describe their miserable future lives to us…complete with details about the crappy fast food restaurant, in which they would certainly be a fry cook. A very small part of me thinks she honestly believed that this might be helpful, like some misguided “scared straight” tactic. But most of me thinks she enjoyed the sound of 30 kids laughing at the person she had chosen to single out.

And while I was never the topic of her verbal abuse, her treatment of other students led me to severely lock horns with her on quite a few occasions. Something I had never experienced with any other teachers before then. Or after, actually.

Anyway, I digress.

Since we were approaching the end of our senior year in high school, she naturally asked us about our plans for the following year. My buddy explained that he was planning on going away to a state college…and this news seemed to please her. Then she asked me about MY plans.

I had just recently made the VERY scary, life-altering decision to abort my previous plan of attending some Big 10 school, in order to study music at a local community college, and REALLY try to pursue music as a career. It was an extremely tough decision, but having recently made it, I was feeling exceedingly proud. And I was genuinely excited to tell people about it.

Looking back at the situation, with the insight that I have now, what happened next isn’t surprising. At all. However, 17-year-old Dan was blindsided.

She called me stupid. She said I was making the biggest mistake of my entire life, and that I would undoubtedly spend the rest of my life regretting the very second I made such a foolish choice. She said I was much too smart to waste my life on something like playing music. And then she asked me if there might be time to change my mind before it was too late.

Dan: “…………”

I don’t think about this story that often, but every time I do, it makes me wonder how often she did things like that to her students. Fortunately, at that moment I was feeling ridiculously headstrong about my decision. Fresh off the heels of having discovered Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth”…I was hell bent on “following my bliss.” And that is what I intended to do. But it’s not hard to imagine those words landing at the feet of someone who was not feeling quite so resolute.

It’s not hard to imagine someone in a similar position hearing those words…getting extremely scared that they were about to make a colossal failure out of their lives…and then deciding to take the safer, but less fulfilling route. Fortunately, all it did was piss me off. But if I was experiencing a moment of weakness when those words came tumbling out of her mouth, is it possible that I might have changed my mind? Decided to become an accountant somewhere? NOT done what I was so clearly put on this Earth to do? Absolutely. And that is the disturbing part of the story. I mean, can you possibly imagine a Dan Milligan without music? Ummmm. No.

Looking back, it would be easy for me to call her a horrible teacher, but I suppose that’s not true. In her own way, she taught me a valuable lesson that day. One that I hold dear 30 years later. She taught me the importance of words. Specifically, how one single word can drastically change the trajectory of not only YOUR life…but the lives of everyone around you. For the better, or for the worse.

Choose your words wisely, my friends.

This Will Kill That (Treuhand Mix)

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2019 at 5:27 pm

I have known Howie Beno for a little over 20 years. Back in the late 90’s, he was producing a band called Mary’s Window, and we met shortly after I joined that band as their drummer. At the time, I knew that he had done a lot of work with bands like Ministry, Mindbomb, Chemlab, Kill Hannah, Skatenigs, and more*…so I immediately knew he was the kind of musician and producer that I would love to work with. But, I didn’t REALLY start to appreciate the scope of his skills until we began working together in the recording studio. He was professional, but irreverent. Highly skilled, but self-deprecating. Detail-oriented, with a heaping side of “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.” I have so much love for people who aren’t easily categorized…and Howie definitely qualifies.

 

Fast forward to April 2018.

 

After a year of dreaming and scheming, I was slowly starting to understand that The Joy Thieves were actually going to become a reality. And so I started cultivating a short list of musicians that I wanted to include. People that I knew. People that I trusted. People that I knew would kick ALL the ass…all the time. Howie was at the top of that list.

 

Fast forward to April Fools Day, 2019.

 

Howie and his main man Brandt Gassman had been working on a remix for the title track from The Joy ThievesThis Will Kill That EP, and Howie started texting me that they had completed the mix. His intriguing messages included lines such as: “Like jazz, I put a lot of jokes of a musical nature into it,” and “It’s more like a mix tape than a remix.”

 

All of which left me thinking just one thing. “What in the actual hell am I about to hear?” So, I put the headphones on, and pressed play.

 

What I heard that day can probably best be described as an audio collage. Yes, it used elements of the original song. (Namely, Chris J Connelly’s vocals, which they had chopped, effected and altered into a completely new format, and some of the signature guitar and keyboard parts.) But interspersed between those elements were hundreds of bits and pieces of audio that were somehow ALSO familiar to my ears. It sounded like the entire history of industrial rock had been thrown into a blender…and then the pulverized remains were used as the foundation for some sort of amazing sonic tapestry. At the time, I remember thinking that it was like something Jackson Pollock would have made, if only he had decided to create music instead of paintings.

 

I kept listening. And it seemed like every time I did…I felt like I heard something new. Around every corner, I found a new little Easter Egg. 7 months later, I am still finding them.

 

The Joy Thieves’ have striven to take the ideas of over 30 musicians, and then somehow unify all of those ideas into one cohesive sound. To honor industrial music’s amazing past, by constantly creating something new. To create a sound that was made by ALL of us…and yet doesn’t really sound exactly like ANY of us. That is exactly what Howie and Brandt achieved with this masterpiece of a remix…making it the ULTIMATE remix for a band like The Joy Thieves.

 

If you’re a fan of industrial rock music…this one’s for you.

 

-D

 

Check out the lyric video HERE, and let me know what you think!

 

 

 

Two Sides of the Story: Remixing Chris Connelly

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2019 at 6:56 am
Sleeping Partner artworkEarlier this year I made the decision to actively pursue opportunities to do remixing for other artists. The recent successful launch of The Joy Thieves had suddenly expanded my professional circle quite a bit, so it just felt like the right time to make a real effort to let other artists know that I was ready and available to do remix work.
One of the very first musicians I contacted was Chris J Connelly, who many will know from his solo work, as well as his time spent in bands like Ministry, Pigface, Revolting Cocks, FiniTribe, The Damage Manual, Cocksure, etc. etc. etc. I’ve been a fan of his work as a musician, a poet, and an author for many years now…and since we had co-written and recorded a few songs together for The Joy Thieves and Drownbeat, reaching out to him seemed like a perfect way to get started. So I did. And to my surprise, he responded immediately.
He told me he was going to be releasing a solo album later in the year, and that he would love to hear how I might reinterpret one of those songs. A few short hours later, I had them all loaded into my iTunes, and I was ready to take them in for the very first time.
Chris: When he told me he wanted to do remixes for other artists, I said ‘Oh REALLY?? Well, have at it!!!’ And I handed him a couple of the most abstract, non linear, perfectly arrangement-free pieces I had composed in recent years. ‘Verses & choruses are for complete LOSERS!’ I sneered, and with a maniacal laugh I left him to it.
Looking back, I definitely should have taken a video of myself during that first listen. But since I didn’t, I can only assume that it only took a matter of mere seconds before my mouth was agape, and my eyes had slightly glazed over; the way eyes do when their owner is feeling completely overwhelmed. My ears were busy, as well. They were busy taking in 8-10 minute songs, filled with layer upon layer of discordant keyboards, haunting soundscapes, and disjointed voices fluctuating between spoken-word poetry and ethereal crooning. And all the while, my brain was spinning as I desperately tried to figure out how the HELL I was supposed to begin remixing music like this.
Anyone who is familiar with my music, specifically Drownbeat, already knows that I am no stranger to creating haunting and atmospheric music, but remixing someone else’s music is completely different from writing it. And to be perfectly honest, I had NO idea how I was going to tackle a project like this. I didn’t even have a clue where to begin. And so I did what any clearly insane person would do: I asked him if I could remix TWO of the songs, instead of just one.
To make a long story short…James Scott of Populist Recording, (the yin to my production yang) and I spent many, MANY hours crafting two remixes of which we are EXTREMELY proud. We are equally proud of the following, which was written by Chris shortly after hearing the work we had done.
Chris: Without interfering with the completely nebulous, layered nature of the pieces, (‘Picassa’ & ‘The Sun Is A Maze’ from my forthcoming album ‘Sleeping Partner’) he brought a completely new dimension and drive to them, as if someone changed the lighting in a room strewn with artifacts and objects. Everything was still there, but the mood was enhanced, the shadows had changed, and the colours had deepened, and become more radiant. There was also more structure and space amongst the dense layers I had created.
As wonderful as it is to read those words, I must admit I’m partial to the simpler, and somewhat less cerebral text message he sent me after hearing our remix of The Sun Is A Maze for the very first time. It read simply:
HOLY F**KING S**T!!!
Sleeping Partner was released today on Armalyte Industries, and is now available for streaming and/or purchase HERE. It comes as either a digital download, or an extremely limited edition jewelcase CD, that comes with stunning artwork by Marija Buljeta and Violeta Juras. And I’m happy to say that it includes BOTH remixes we did. It is dense, experimental, and abstract. At times it soothes, and at other times it challenges. (I know it challenged me!)
More than anything, I am just SO honored to have been a small part of it.