Q&A: Admiral Grey And Ceci Moss Of Cellular Chaos On Getting Into People's Faces, Rolling Around On The Floor And Playing With Drummer Marc Edwards
This week, the Voice sat down with some of the many iconoclastic musicians from across the country that extreme musician Weasel Walter has corralled across the nation under his visionary label Cellular Chaos, six-string-wielding Walter and co-conspirator Marc Edwards converge with bassist Ceci Moss (also of noise-freak duo Medved) and vocalist Admiral Grey for sonic no wave mayhem and rock and roll histrionics.
Below, Grey and Moss's musings on meeting Walter, bonding with audiences and the appropriate attire for getting physical live in concert.
Admiral, did Weasel find you or you find him?
Admiral Grey: Well, we were somewhat in parallel worlds. I'd been in the Brooklyn underground scene for ten years and doing different projects. But because I change my name a lot, I'm not too traceable. When I joined this project, I hadn't been in a heavy band for a while, but now Cellular Chaos will play a show and I will run into someone I went on tour with years ago, so it's funny. I was just doing the projects I am working on now.
What are some of your other projects?
Grey: My old, heavy band was called Drayton Sawyer Gang, and we were also post-punk/no wave. I played bass in that. We put out a few albums and toured a few times. The other guys from that band are now the band bbigpigg along with Eugene from the band Print. I had a solo melodic project called Duck and Swallow; I played a lot but I never released an album because I couldn't hit a sweet spot with the recordings and I wanted to move on. I then had a band called Glass Lamborghini. We played out a lot and we released an EP about a year ago. I also have a solo project called I Feel Awesome and a recording project called Ecstatics, and that's like avant-pop. But, anyway!
So how did you ultimately cross paths with Weasel and Cellular Chaos?
Grey: I was missing heavy music and Kate Henderson (aka Thermos Unigarde, who played drums in Glass Lamborghini and performs as the project Snaykhunt had started the Ladies Of Experimental Music NYC (LOXM) page on Facebook, that she curates shows through. In the beginning, people would just find the page and members could add whoever they wantedand not exclusively ladies. So, Weasel ended up joining that group and posted about needing a vocalist. I had never been just a vocalist before. I always kind of looked down it... I don't know... because I've been a musician since I was little and it was sorta like "Whatever, David Lee Roth." But I was psyched on [Cellular Chaos's] music.
Had you heard of Weasel before?
Grey: No. We were just in totally different spheres, different scenes. We have a million friends in common but for some reason had never heard of each other.
Did you know Marc Edwards or Ceci Moss?
Grey: No. Marc is a New Yorker and Weasel and Ceci were in California... I've lived In New York for a long time but it's just like whole other world of people. The scene is too huge [here].
So you weren't familiar with ugEXPLODE or Flying Luttenbachers?
Grey: I vaguely heard of Flying Luttenbachersjust different worlds, totally. But now we think it's weird. I'm playing now with people my old heavy band played with but also I was out of the kind of no wave scene for a while because I was doing more melodic [projects]. Glass Lamborghini was no wave but we were just in a different world. The scene is so huge. But we do know a lot of people in common and now I play shows and it's like "Hey!" like a reunion.
Where does your live presence come from? It's somewhat Lydia Lunch-ian.
Grey: I think it just comes from everything. I listen to so much music, every genre. [No wave] was part of my musical education growing up. It was a big step for me to just do vocals but I had secretly been kind of thinking about it and was like "What would it be like to just do awesome vocals and not be behind an instrument all the time and really connect to the audience and use my body?" I was actually a trained vocalist when I was a kid and did opera. So when Weasel put up a post that was like "What the fuck? Why can't we find a cool vocalist?" My initial thought was probably "Well, your music probably sucks" [laughing]. But this band is amazing and reminded me a bit of my old band, Drayton Sawyer Gang.
Was it weird then entering into Cellular Chaos at first because "Weasel is Weasel," then there's Ceci Moss [bass] and Marc Edwards, who is this elder statesman drummer with a storied history, playing with Cecil Taylor and David S. Ware... ?
Grey: ... It was perfect, it was great.
I don't want to say Marc is older but...
Grey: Yeah [laughing]. I was immediately like, "Yes!" He's just a fantastic drummer. I was just so excited. Marc was probably the most exciting thing about the band. When I first went to jam with them, I was just like "Fuck, yeah" because I had heard the recordings and basically Weasel had put up that post and I was like "Let's jam, hippie." But I had a feeling it was kismet because [doing vocals again] had just crossed my mind and then I saw that [post].
Was it immediate you were in the band?
Grey: Yeah, we just clicked. Weasel and I get along really well and enjoy a lot of the same things and [we are] both lifelong musicians that have an appreciation of a lot of the same things and so we were fast friends. It was very easy. I then just banged out a bunch of songs to the music.
Where does that energy you have live come from?
Grey: [Laughing] My deep, deep, dark subconscious. I also do experimental theater and I write. So I sorta get to exercise my id in ways that I only ever did at 4 in the morning upon poor, unsuspecting strangers and getting into trouble [laughing]. I think all the getting into trouble I've ever done is now focused somewhere. All the horrible addictions and exploits that start to get old once you're not 17 anymore [laughing]. It's better to focus into performance.
You also sport rather flashy attire in the live setting also.
Grey: [Laughing]. I have to be athleticvery important.
So you have to wear something comfortable?
Grey: Well, yeah. I have to wear something athletic. I have kneepads now but they never seem to stay on because I was getting these really gnarly bruises.
Yes, you and the band are very physical.
Grey: It has to be a 3-D band. Everybody is very physical in that band, actually. It's all intuitive.