Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Holidays from Taiwan

This e-postcard was found on the very informative SF Fixed message board. It's nice to see the smiling, proud faces of the folks that built my bike frame and fork. There's a lot to be said for boutique frames, and I certainly have no qualms with bespoke goods for those that can afford it, but for the rest of us, there's brands like IRO, which outsource their production to Maxway in Taiwan.

Now here's a picture of me on said bike trying way too hard to look serious. Absolutely ridiculous.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Madball DMS

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Why do birthdays have to be so depressing?

Yesterday, I woke up next to my amazing girlfriend, K, and went to breakfast with her and a mutual friend. We ate at Louis' on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. This tiny diner has the same views as the venerable and historic (read: out of my league) Cliff House, but with prices and foods that accommodate my wallet and simple palate.

Breakfast was nice. I enjoyed the conversation, and studied the seemingly infinite horizon as it stretched for miles past my vantage point at the edge of the Earth.

Afterwards, K and A headed out for work, and I faced the responsibility of studying for my impending finals. I made a feeble effort, but found that I just couldn't hang. In order to dodge the particular responsibility of studying without feeling too guilty, I set about to cleaning my room. Cleaning my room is at least productive, and thus a justifiable substitute for forgoing my studies.

The day passed slowly. When evening came about, I picked up K from work and went to her house until it was time to meet my family at my favorite restaurant. I opened a couple of gifts to pass the time; A hooked me up with a Lillingtons album. This band is great. I've listened to it nearly 10 times already. K presented me with the gift that she'd been struggling to keep a secret for the past couple of weeks. K hates waiting for surprises. It's cute.

Prior to the actual presentation of the gift, she'd let on that it was something special, something that I'd never ask for. She was right. K purchased a painting for me that I'd had my heart set on ever since seeing it hanging in its show. K told me that when I returned to admire the painting for a second time, it was easy to read the disappointment in my expression when I saw that the painting had already marked as sold. Little did I know who it was sold to.After opening my wonderful gifts, we converged upon Gaspare's on Geary and 20th. Gaspare's has hosted roughly 20 of my 27 birthday dinners, and has been a reliable setting for countless other celebratory meals. With my family around me, I enjoyed a fantastic meal at my favorite restaurant. We left Gaspare's and headed back to my apartment for coffee and cake. My mom made my favorite cake. It's the same cake that she made for my dad when they were young, and living 15 blocks down the street from my apartment.

While my family talked with K, I took a phone call from my out of state grandparents, and a cousin and aunt. It was nice talking to them, and it always strikes me as strange that they live so far away now. We used to live within an hour of each other.

After a while, my parents left, and I took K back to her apartment.

So, going back to what I said at the beginning... why are birthdays so depressing? With all the wonderful people I'm surrounded by, how is it that I end up wasting away into the early morning hours feeling so empty and alone? I don't think I've ever been honest enough to admit to the completely consumptive feeling of loneliness that has metastasized within me.

I've been given everything, and yet I still struggle. I think a lot of people do.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dave Grohl on Drums

I haven't listened to the Foo Fighters since their first album came up, so I'd kinda forgotten what a great musician Dave Grohl is. His contributions to Nirvana get an A+, no doubt, but a lot of the songs he's written for FF just don't cut it for me. All the same, the dude's got raw talent that I'm not even trying to deny.

Playing on a child's drum kit somewhere in Europe

With Earl Hudson (Bad Brains)

Headline News

This headline rubbed me the wrong way...

I can understand phrasing it something like "marked by dissent..." or "met with dissent...", but to place such a strictly negative connotation in the headline assumes a lot more than the media should be assuming.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The past few days have been pretty good. Here's what I listened to this week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dominic Mallary

A few days ago, a young man from Massachusetts died of a brain aneurysm shortly after performing with his band, Last Lights. We didn't know each other at all, but considering how small the hardcore world is, I'm sure that our paths would have crossed at some point sooner or later. Our lack of familiarity shelters me from feeling the same sadness and loss that those close to him are surely struggling with, but I am saddened by his death all the same.

"War drums don't move my feet. The human race can run without me..."

Dominic Mallary had an incredible amount of talent, and I'm sad that I discovered it only in the wake of his untimely passing. According to his band mates he was responsible for nearly all of their material, both musically as well as lyrically. Check out his music.

Last Lights - Strong American Nightmare type of vibe
Haunted Like A House - His quieter/experimental side

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Economic Grousings

My roommate just had her hours cut at work and her co-workers are getting laid off one by one every day. She warned me that it's a possibility that she'd have to move out soon. My girlfriend has seen a significant decline in business as a hairstylist lately. She's considering picking up more hours at a side job, in addition to the six days a week she already works. Friends of mine have a house in foreclosure. Another friend is a student, and nearly didn't get state grant money that was promised to her and is necessary to supplement her income.

I've been listening to NPR this morning, and Talk of the Nation focused exclusively on callers' stories of being laid off in the recent weeks. It was so depressing. I've always taken work for granted, and always earned my own way as much as I could.

I got my first job at 12 (technically 11) and worked 30-40 hours a week from the time I was 17 until I was 25 when I finally decided to go back to school. I'm turning 27 next week and I'm subsisting off of grants, loans, off and on part-time employment and freelance graphic design work. When I started school, I had visions of obtaining a degree, and jumping right into the workforce and getting paid to do what I love.

I don't believe in that vision any more. For the time being, I'm considering myself lucky to have what I have, and trying to prepare myself for the inevitable disappearance of my comfortable life.

The American economy will rise and fall, but it's disgusting to consider how it could have been different. Would we really be in this deep recession if so much money hadn't been thrown in the wrong direction over the past eight years? It's classic Orwellian double-speak; while our president tells us that we want to pursue peace, yet, we're funneling all of our money into wars. We're also told that our country is built on small businesses, entrepreneurship and common people, and yet we cut taxes for the wealthy, underfund education (a means by which to ascend the economic ranks), deregulate everything, place our faith in the competence of businessmen, allow big business to run free and THEN leave us with no choice but to bail them out financially.

Here's a bit of an antidote for all my gloom...

Wait a minute, that's some antidote... this sketch shouldn't have even had to be made in the first place. How about we deregulate the institution of marriage?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Academic Overload & Procrastination

I suspect that there are currently thousands of blogs online with recent posts complaining about the stresses of school as the semester comes to a close. I'm tempted to write one myself, but the truth is I didn't do shit all semester, so I'm pretty much getting what I deserve. It's not even so bad, really. I've finished a paper, studied for a few tests, and still have to complete a few art projects and write one last paper.

On the topic of procrastination and shirking responsibilities...

I'm behind on mail-order for the first time in a year. I used to be horrible about getting things out, so I decided to make a change. In order to keep on top of things, I simply made a routine of going to the postoffice on Tuesdays. After sending out a couple hundred zines this year, I've been laying low. I have nothing new to produce and distribute, so there's no real momentum. On average, I'm now handling only one or two orders every month. I really don't understand why it's so hard for me to just get out to the post office and send a few orders out. Even worse, I'm behind on shipping out trades. My trading partners already hooked me up, and I've just been sitting on my end of the bargain.

OK, I'm off to the post office... this is ridiculous.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Recording Revisited

It's amazing how much can be accomplished in 20 hours if you simply forgo eating and going outside. The end result of this weekend's efforts actually surprised me and exceeded my expectations. The record sounds way bigger than what we should have been able to afford on our budget... some of that might have to do with the massive amount of guitar tracks we laid down.

In order to get the fullest sound possible, Paul and I each AB'd two amps. I ran my Yamaha T100 with a Mesa Mark IV, and Paul used his Peavey Butcher and Sunn Model T reissue. Four amps getting tracked in stereo pairs results in eight channels of guitar every time the engineer hit "record". On top of that, we double and triple tracked all leads. I'm thankful that we've found an engineer that is enthusiastic enough to sift through all that and mix it properly. Chaos and excess at its finest. Andy Kugler fucking rules.

Our new 12" entitled All Human Failings will be released in February on Free Cake Records.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

We're Too Poor To Even Spend Time Together

I'd like to be together with the people I love more often.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Depressing Day

I woke up with a headache, and knew that today wasn't going to be the best.

After compulsively dilly-dallying, I managed leave my house just in time to miss the 44. The next bus didn't arrive for another 15 minutes, which isn't the most excruciating thing I've ever had to deal with, but it was cold and I didn't want to go anywhere anyway. Eventually the next bus pulls up, and I get on board and take a seat with the old people and the handicapped folks. As the bus arrived at 9th and Judah, I get off to make my transfer.

While I'm waiting, I leaned against the bus shelter. A guy about my age rides up on a very hip looking track bike and is almost immediately confronted by a drunken wreck of a person looking for spare change. I don't think the track bike kid spoke English, so the drunk switches targets and approaches me asking for change. After pretending to not be able to hear him through my headphones failed to discourage his persistence, I removed my headphones, looked him in the eye and told him that I couldn't help him.

The man starts inching closer to my face and begins exclaiming how ready he is to get a gun and start shooting everybody in his path. I asked him if he was serious.

"Of course I am. Can't you look into my eyes and see that I've had it?"

"Yeah, I can see that."

The man spins around and points at the track kid's bike, but continues addressing me, "I used to have a bike, until some motherfucker stole it!"

"When did your bike get stolen?" I asked him.

"Oh, years ago, when I was a kid. It was a Kuwahara. I had a Mongoose and a Haro too. You know, motherfuckers want to make fun of you when you got something nice. They want to take it from you."

It's always hard to remember that these drunken messes have lives. It's even harder to remember that these people had (and lost) lives that you and I would call normal. The drunken man clearly once had a passion for BMX bikes. He used to care about something other than the plastic bottle of shitty vodka clasped in his purplish, yellow stained hands.

As the man traipsed off, yelling at the people in the bus shelter, I tried to smile and count my blessings, but that just didn't work. As much as I try to sever myself from the grotesque spectacles that confront all of us in life, I just can't. My empathy runs deep. Empathy aside, I also know that my situation is just as tenuous as anyone else's. Fate and fortune have kept me safe for now.

The 43 Masonic pulled up to the stop, so I boarded and walked all the way to the back. I stood for a few stops, and took the first seat that opened up. In the corner of my eye, I could see a tweeky looking dude in a Dark Throne shirt attending to something suspicious in the rearmost seat of the bus. At first I thought he was just hollowing out a blunt or something similarly sketchy. All of a sudden, this dude sitting between me and The Tweeker jumped up, switched seats and started mumbling something under his breath, and eventually ramped up into a full on confrontation with The Tweeker.

For the second time in 20 minutes, my attempt at using my headphones as an excuse to avoid an awkward situation failed.

I couldn't ignore The Angry Man anymore as he started pointing at me and then the floor. I looked down to see multiple streams of liquid trickling down the floor of the bus and toward my shoe. I took my headphones out and asked what it was. The Angry Man said it was water that The Tweeker's dog had thrown up, and continued berating The Tweeker for being disrespectful to the rest of the passengers on the bus.

The Angry Man continued his harangue and The Tweeker eventually brandished a knife. The confrontation had now gotten the attention of the entire bus, and continued on the way those things go.

Realizing that his knife wasn't much of an effective threat to The Angry Man, The Tweeker pulled the wire, and prepared to get off at the next stop. As he grabbed his stuff, I caught my first glimpse of his poor, barely conscious puppy. The Tweeker began to disembark the bus, and muttered the obligatory parting threats which always extend confrontations a few moments longer. As he skipped down the stairs and through the hissing doors, I couldn't stop staring into the puppy's glazed and runny eyes.

I got off at the next stop, heartbroken, and walked to class.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fading Frontiers

After bouncing around on a couple of links on some message boards, I came across Charlie Kelly's website. He's posted a lot of really cool pictures of the early Thanksgiving morning bike rides he began organizing in the mid-70's. Seeing CK and his friends on cruiser style bikes (preceding the dawn of the purpose-built mountain bike) really reminds you of what an original concept it was in the beginning. I also can't help but think of all the disgusting homes that have been built in Marin, encroaching on its precious open space.

Combing through CK's account of the early days of mountain biking in Marin was pretty inspiring and stirred up a lot of memories of youth. I may not be the most serious, or able cyclist, but biking has been an inseparable part of my life since the beginning. I had my first bike probably around the age of 2 or 3, and did a lot of riding as a kid.

My bike took me on a lot of adventures. I remember getting in trouble for riding my Sears brand BMX bike from 28th Avenue alllll the way down to 23rd. My mom didn't think it was a good idea for a 7 year old to strike out on his own like that. In retrospect, it was obviously no big deal, but the sense of freedom and rebellion that ride instilled in me was incredible at the time... not to mention totally worth the scolding.

A few years later, I crashed and broke my nose while riding the same bike. For all the danger my mother had hoped to escape in San Francisco, I managed to find some of it in the suburbs. After moving to Novato, I grew out of the BMX bike, and got a mountain bike as a replacement. Sears brand once again, naturally. As I got older still, I started to become way more aware of the level of wealth in my community, and also aware that my family was not keeping up with that standard. Friends of mine began getting more serious about mountain biking, and their parents outfitted them with the name brands that eluded my possession.

The year I turned 13 was pretty special. I must have begged my parents for a "real" mountain bike for Christmas. I probably exercised the "birthday AND Christmas" clause, which all December babies keep as an ace up their sleeve when they want something REALLY special. Whatever I did, it paid off. When I woke up Christmas morning to see a shiny blue Diamondback Sorrento next to the tree, I probably came close to having a heart attack.

Lightweight aluminum frame, quick release wheels, cantilever brakes, 21 speeds, shifters mounted under the handlebars... it was a sight to behold. Sure, it was just a cheapo bike from a chain bike store, but no Sears bike had ever come close to this.

I rode that Diamondback until I was about 15 or 16. I rode it all over town, and through the numerous trails that cut through the Marin County landscape. I'd spend hours jumping my bike off of dirt mounds, or slugging up a hill for what seemed like an hour, all so I could race back down it as fast as I could. I have less fond memories of pedaling my bikes around Michelle Circle once a week on my paper route, but for the most part all my bike memories were very positive.

Until I began to write this, I hadn't realized that my bicycling habit had lapsed for nearly 10 years. About three years ago, I revived the habit, and bought a Raleigh road bike. Since then I've built a couple of fixed gear track bikes and try to get out on the roads at least once or twice a week. Like I said, I'm not a rabid cyclist by any means, but I certainly feel a strong connection to it, and I know that it will always be a part of my life.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Examination (Transit III)

As the enormous weight is finally unchained
It crashes and falls at an infinite rate
The peace that was once lost in the fray will be reclaimed

We endured a nightmare to see a new day
The winds bring change
The rains erase the memories and tragedies of history
Cast off the past

Weathered the storm and its deafening noise
The havoc it wrought, the treasures destroyed
Recover then revel in the disheveled waste
Winds bring change, the rains erase

The tumbling rubble that all else succumbed to
Becomes calm in the bleak, blackened dawn
Rebuilt and reformed, mended and mourned
The rules that defined us... rewritten


Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Before I'd settled on the idea that I wanted to be a "graphic designer", Peter Saville's work made a striking impression on me and cemented an idea of perfect design deep in my brain. Saville's style references both the antique and the ultra-modern. Sometimes his work is grounded here on Earth, and other times it reaches deep into the infinite expanse of outer-galactic space. Whatever methods he employs, he always seems to manage to encapsulate and complement the particular concept he's designing around.

While Saville has taken on many projects in his career, the realm that I've had the opportunity to enjoy the most has been his work with Factory Records artists, particularly Joy Division and New Order. His knack for conceptual reinforcement adds a very power dimension to the music. It's so much more than packaging. Saville's ability to create a convincing, and undeniable kinship between his visuals and the sound of music is second to none.

I've heard him dismissed by people calling him dreary, unoriginal and unimaginative, or even artsy for the sake of being artsy. When I hear things like that, it's all too easy for me think, "they just don't get it."

In My Mailbox

Clean Plate Records has been sending out Mind Eraser LPs. I got mine today. It's heavy.

To Be Delivered

Arkitip Magazine just reached into my wallet and took $75. Check out their new issue featuring Peter Saville. I'll be patiently awaiting the day it arrives.

Masshysteri - Vår Del Av Stan. I'm really anticpating this little Swedish gem. Feral Ward hasn't posted ordering information about the USA release, so I went straight to Ny Våg Records for the Euro press.

• Speaking of Feral Ward, I picked up a bunch of stuff from them the other day. That will be an exciting mail day.

Studio Time

Tonight, I'm poring over the demo tracks that my band recorded at our last practice. We're gearing up to put in some solid rehearsal time in anticipation of our upcoming recording dates in December, so I'm refining my guitar harmonies and overdubs, making production notes and finalizing my lyrics and vocal patterns. I live for this kind of preparation!

Spending time in the studio always gives you the chance to nail down the songs you've written and push them to their full potential. The experience is rewarding and exciting, but this time it feels different; my usual eagerness is amplified tenfold. I've become unsually attached to the songs we've written and feel a bit of responsibility to ensure that they're perfectly represented and preserved on tape.

However, all the excitement of recording is tempered by a bittersweet feeling of uncertainty. A strange phenomenon seems to occur time and time again, where every recording session feels like it's bound to be my last. I suppose it's hard for one to imagine anything being more perfect than the project they're presently working on. Time always proves me wrong, but the feeling is still unshakable.

This post could go on all night long, so I'll close with a list of all the recording sessions that I can recall off the top of my head. I might have forgotten a few, but this is certainly the majority of my studio experiences.

My Bands
03/2002 - Never Again, Demo - 5 tracks
09/2002 - The Mourning Dawn, Demo - 4 tracks
04/2003 - These Days, Demo - 7 tracks
08/2003 - These Days, Death Sentence, 4 tracks (scrapped)
11/2003 - These Days, Death Sentence, 5 tracks
02/2004 - These Days, Demo/Spiderghost compilation, 3 tracks
05/2004 - The Mourning Dawn, 1931-1981 - 13 tracks
10/2004 - These Days, s/t - 12 tracks
12/2004 - Ceremony, Demo - 6 tracks
01/2005 - These Days, s/t Mixing
??/2005 - Your Kids, Demo (scrapped) - 4 tracks
??/2005 - Acoustic demos, home recordings
??/2006 - Acoustic demos, home recordings
03/2007 - These Days, Chained to the Lake - 10 tracks
04/2007 - Skin Like Iron, Demo - 9 tracks
06/2007 - Skin Like Iron, Conquest - 5 tracks
07/2007 - Skin Like Iron, Wisdom demos - 5 tracks
08/2007 - Skin Like Iron, Wisdom & Conquest II - 9 tracks
01/2008 - Skin Like Iron, 10" - 9 tracks
03/2008 - Skin Like Iron, Quake City 7" - 2 tracks
09/2008 - Skin Like Iron, 7" demos - 4 tracks

Other Bands

??/2004 - Vocals on Lifelong Tragedy, Destined For Anything
??/2004 - Vocals on Days to Streaks, Demo (I later joined this band)
??/2005 - Vocals on At Risk, s/t
??/2006 - Vocals on Trash Talk, Walking Disease
??/2007 - Vocals on Ramparts, Demo

Looking back at where I started at the age of 20, and looking ahead a few weeks to where I'll be on my 27th birthday, it's amazing how much has occurred in such a short period of time. Here's to hoping that I'm able to continue dredging my creative wells for some time to come.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November 18th, 1978

30 years ago, yesterday, most of the followers of Jim Jones' People's Temple perished in a mass suicide. The grisly, yet fascinating demonstration of Jones' control over his followers illustrates the power of man and mind. How does one identify, penetrate and exploit the needs of his disaffected followers? How is one so injured mentally that they seek out and submit to such control?

Once this control is established, anything is possible. The malleability of someone enthralled by a demigod such as Jones is easy to understand. Fear, abuse and deceit can ensure compliance, but how is that door even opened? I certainly don't have an answer... merely curiosity.

Listen to the audio recording of the suicide sermon.

I can't make mention of Jim Jones without also tipping my hat to...

Monday, November 17, 2008


No, they're not saying "we've got the tall tees", apparently. I hear that Masshysteri will be coming to our shores in April. Very exciting.

Also exciting:
A record that I recently refused to pay $35 for on eBay was offered to me by its seller for $5. Apparently whoever outbid me by $30 didn't intend to actually pay that kind of money. I know there's some Vivian Girls hype going on right now (hey, that's what caught my interest), but come on... oh well, I guess I came up pretty good on this one.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


At this point, the phrase "remember when Metallica was good?" has become a well-worn cliche. I know that I'm really not offering any original insight on the matter, so with that said, I ask, do you remember when Metallica was good?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rediscovering This Blog

I just dredged up this blog that I created for a school project last semester. I think I'd like to keep it updated more regularly.

Here's a map of the route that I took on my walk this morning. It was a short walk, but I took some cool pictures. I also found a creepy little staircase that cuts right down through the sidewalk and drops you down on the street below.

Walking Route

Monday, April 28, 2008

April 25th at Gilman

Alex Capasso / Skin Like Iron - Photo by Jessica Snyder

This week we played two shows with Pulling Teeth (Baltimore) and Circles (Vancouver). The first show was Wednesday in Santa Cruz at the 418 Project. Having been home for only 36 hours at that point and having jumped headlong back into our work and school schedules, we were jet-lagged and beat up, but we pulled it off, I think.

The second home-coming show was on Friday at 924 Gilman. The Separation (heavy and political - Redding, CA), Pulling Teeth and Circles were awesome that night. Punch (frantic/hyperkinetic - San Francisco, CA) also played, and they blew me away. I'm usually not so impressed with bands that I just happen to see, without having heard before, but Punch really kills. I regret not seeing Conquest for Death's performance, but I really needed some fresh air and I had to step outside for a while.

Next show is at the Bike Kitchen!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Photos from SLI 2008 Tour

All Photos © 2008 Alex Capasso
Skin Like Iron Spring Tour 2008

Drew in Baltimore. Baltimore is the dirtiest, most decrepit city I've personally seen with my own eyes.

Paul got another Black Flag tattoo... in New Jersey. Yuck.

NYC Subway

Kill Your Idols played their last show at the same place we played in Brooklyn. Kill Your Idols was one of the first hardcore bands I ever saw. Very cool.

Me in downtown Providence. Photo by Paul Ehat.

Heading home.

Skin Like Iron - East Coast Tour 2008

April 15th - April 20th

Philadelphia, PA
Baltimore, MD
New Brunswick, NJ
Brooklyn, NY
Boston, MA
Providence, RI