Irregular Dreams’ Best Songs June

These are our ten fave tracks right now:

“Where You Got Your Shoes” by The Gregories

“Pseudoscience Fiction” by Kristian North

“I Will Never Marry” by Sister Ray

“James Gandolfini” by Single Mothers

“LIGHTS DOWN LOW” by Yessica Woahneil

“God Universe Magic (G​.​U​.​M) ft. SATE” by Witch Prophet

“Grow (ft. Edzi’u & Kinnie Starr)” by Julia Sound

“Out of Control” by Night Court

“Blurry” by Beatings Are in the Body

“Rules Are Bourgeois Porn” by Western Bloc

Interview with Benjamin Hackman of The Holy Gasp

Interview by Mark Brennan

MB:  Were you a poet first before a musician?

BH:  It depends when you want to start. If you want to start from childhood then I was a musician first because I fell head-over-heals in love with the glockenspiel in my junior kindergarten class. I always played music and did musical theatre. I studied creative writing in university. My earnest desire was to be regarded as a poet, and after giving eight years of my life to it I was not satisfied with the level of success that I had achieved so I pulled a Leonard Cohen and started setting some of my lyrics to music. In my heart I’m a writer, and the music is like a container for the writing. The music is like a chip and the poetry is the humus.  

MB:  Did you start off solo or did you have a band?

BH:  There’s an album that I’ve hidden from public consciousness, a self-titled eight-track album. That’s just me on the congas, doing a beatnik music and poetry thing.  After that I started putting more and more musicians together, and at some point I just decided that The Holy Gasp will be this amorphous, conceptual blob. So it changes all the time. People have been getting in and out of the band for about a decade now. I bring in new people, some people leave forever, some people leave and come back in. It’s like the circus, just jump on when it passes.

MB:  Sounds like fun. Speaking of which, that is the first thing that strikes me about your music is the sense of fun. There’s a constant sense of humour.

BH:  I try to be very serious and that ends up being funny. But I never set out to be funny. 

MB:  Are you being serious? It’s not that I don’t take your lyrics seriously, but the humour of it all strikes me right away. I guess it’s the theatrics of it.

BH:  I really try not to over-think that stuff. I’m aware that I’m funny but if I start to think about it I’m going to curse myself. Seriousness is very funny, so me taking myself seriously is where the comedy comes from.

MB:  Listening to the music is like the circus coming through. It’s almost like vaudeville.

BH:  You’re a better judge of it than I am. You’re much further away from it than I am, you can have a much sober assessment of it. I’m right in it, I’m too close. If you tell me it’s funny and it’s like a vaudeville circus then I believe you.

MB:  The latest album — is it spiritual?

BH:  The cover image or the album?

MB:  Well, both. Let’s start with the image.

BH:  The image is by Léon Bonnat from 1883, depicting the character Job in what I presume is Chapter 3 in which Job rips all of his garments and falls to his knees naked and covers himself in ash, and ask the Lord for answers as to why he is suffering. That is the major thematic anchor for the entire album, an exploration of human suffering, specifically a period of a few years in my own life when a good many people around me seemed to die in quick succession, in all different types of ways, and I became forlorn, very depressed and confused about mortality — why these things happened without obvious cause. I was hungry to find my experiences represented in some kind of artful expression because none of my friends could relate to having lost so many people in such a short period of time.  So I looked for a work of art that would speak to me and with which I could resonate, and I found that in the biblical book of Job. So I studied it, and used the Jobian archetype and framing to craft theses 18 tracks, which became the album ‘…And the Lord Hath Taken Away…’.   It’s not so funny, is it?

Listen, the line between comedy and tragedy is paper-thin. In 2017 I was commissioned to compose an original film score for the 1925 picture ‘The Freshman’. I don’t if you’ve ever watched Harold Lloyd but he was really funny. Here’s the thing when you’re scoring a silent comedy — if a guy slips and there’s no music, you see the pain and anguish of falling down, but if a guy slips and you go (oooo-woop [music]) then it’s really funny. It’s just how you perceive it. The world is filled with horrible, atrocious things. It’s OK to cry about that and mourn that and fall on your knees and ask why, and it’s also perfectly acceptable to laugh at the nightmare that we all call existence. There’s plenty to laugh at.

Irregular Dreams’ Best Songs: May

These are our ten fave tracks right now:

“George Thorogood” by Grimelda

“Everything Where It Should Be” by The Holy Gasp

“Slouching Toward Bethlehem” by Devon Church

“Tiny Devil” by divorcer

“Play” by Fang and the Toe Beans

“Piccolo Lina” by God’s Mom

“The One” by Caveman & The Banshee

“Waiting For The Light To Quit” by ALL HANDS_MAKE LIGHT

“Mom Jeans/Mom Genes” by miesha & the spanks

“Learning to Say No” by Valiska