photo: Charles Berlitz as RIPLEY with ACE VENTURA; 2011
We first encountered Spencer Clark when he and his musical partner James Ferraro somehow succeeded in hypnotising us into booking The Skaters at one of VT’s earliest Subcurrent festivals. In the event we were more than happy to be suckered as they were one of the highlights of that year, playing a set that felt like it was gonna levitate the roof right off the building. Since his work with The Skaters – still one of the most influential bands of the modern age – Spencer has worked under many different guises, from Vodka Soap through Black Joker, Monopoly Child Star Searchers and Fourth World Magazine but his back catalogue is united by his overarching interest in altered states, in the reification of hallucinatory environments and the possibilities of channelling aspects of the self and others via specific cultural portals: 80s pop detritus, surf movie grimoires, Fortean pulp, Typhonian slimers... His music combines aspects of exotica, minimalism, drone and environmental recordings with a blurry, psychoactive and expressive use of fidelity that is extremely potent. He is also one of the most chiller dudes you could ever share a pineapple with, combining a laid-back party attitude with a natural aptitude for inspired occult thought and an umbilical to Sirius that he can turn on and off at will. We asked him to write something for VT to tie-in with the release of his new Fourth World Magazine release, The Spectacle Of Light Abductions, and he gave us a fantastic piece about his encounter with an icon of American advertising, evidence of alien activity and the inspiration behind his new LP.
The last time I came back from Europe to the American Crunchtree I was feeling really fresh. As always, jumping back into Joe Plumbers cage match is like turning on the Looney Tunes Intro. Coming out of the airplane tunnel - everyone starts talking real loud and smiling with huge grins, it’s like being born again. Moving at Euro speed in Disneyland gives me a light hearted gifted intensity, that might otherwise be a little afraid. I cruised back into San Francisco, and it was my girlfriend’s birthday. We went to an expensive hotel in the Oakland hills called the Monte Claire, or the Clairemont. I have this sense (that some people take pills for) where I seem to recognize anyone I have ever seen, like a for real likeness fixation. We were in the bar, she was looking really nice, and her girlfriends were about to arrive. We were drinking cocktails and I was thinking about how happy she was, when I saw this older man sitting with another older man at a table across the room. This first guy was really recognizable and I mentioned it to her, like he was famous, from somewhere. It reminded me of San Diego, but I couldn’t figure it out, and she didn’t like when I made shit up, so I quit it.
Her friends arrived, and now there were four good looking girls and just two guys. We went outside for a cigarette, and soon after these two geezers just followed us out. They wanted to mingle for real, and they began to approach us, and well, the guy who didn’t look too famous came up and was like – “Do you know who this guy is?” – and just as he said it my brain flashed and I remembered him, it was George Zimmer from the suit company Men’s Warehouse. This company is really big in California, and probably elsewhere as well. George Zimmer is the spokesman, and the CEO, he appears in every commercial, which are on all the time, saying “You’ll look as good as I do, I guarantee it”. This dude is definitely, if you haven’t met him, a DREAM DEMON, meaning he looks super iconic, and is, to someone who knows 90’s TV in Cali. He was really stoked to talk to us, just jiving with the ladies, and his confidant, who was like his agent or something, was kind of a freak, and was trying to impress upon everyone the gravity of the situation. Other people started to gather, and a spectacle was created, we were now sort of out of direct contact with this icon, so I was getting a little bummed, because I wanted to talk to him, like back to America in the Dream Zone.
But definitely, as we cruised back inside he came to our table immediately, no brag style, but the girls were looking really nice, in dresses and all blonde hairs. He sat more or less near me, but the chat zone was super boring, like everyone was sort of speaking to him as though he was a baby. Celebrity shock is cool, but its like, cool to really talk to them, most of them always say something pretty out there. So I kind of had to butt-in, and I asked him what he was doing this weekend. He immediately responded with “That’s funny you should ask, I am flying to Florida to see the Space Shuttle launched”. So, I am like straight out of Europe, like my own fantasy zone still intact, and I hastened to ask him, it just shot out of my mouth: “So do you believe in Aliens?”
So he goes into it heavy, he mentions that he is going to visit his friend, Edgar Mitchell, who was an astronaut that walked on the moon. He and his space buddy were in this organisation that was, and I don’t remember this part super well, but they were in this organisation that was into learning about and discussing the Ether, the space in space. So the suit CEO takes me aside and mentions to me that when Edgar Mitchell got back from walking on the moon, he felt very odd, and was sure that he had seen some stuff in space, like he had even felt other beings up there. He had some friends in the CIA, as of course all astronauts have connections; so he went to his friends in the CIA, and told them how he felt, and mentioned that he had risked his life for his country, and asked them if any beings from other planets had visited Earth.
So, George Zimmer is a pretty straight guy, and he looks at me, like Fortune 500 style, and tells me that Edgar’s CIA buddies told him that one time an Aliencraft did land on Earth, but only once, and never again had it happened. They said it was that one event in Roswell, and that it did happen, and that two aliens crashed in one ship, one died on impact and the other was experimented on for two weeks, and then died.
This was really heavy, because it seemed like Zimmer was talking about that we had sort of meddled with the Alien and maybe had something to do with his death. He gave me his card and told me to call him if I ever needed a suit. It was straight up crazy though....
When I started working on this record I really wanted to make sounds that had a positive relation to outer alien consciousness. The record is about using the alien metaphor for something higher and human; as though our experiences with Aliens are personal experiences with ourselves, a sign that we have made in the sky, so as to impress. I went to Salt Lake City to meet this guy Kit, he has this archive of footage from the Mormon’s Spectacle of Light Festival that happens in the stadium that’s featured in pictures on the new record. I spoke with him about how I was into the stadium ritual that they did, with all the flashing lights and colored fountains; I told him I wasn’t going to do anything harmful with the footage but that I was going to use it to make a new story.
I think that the Alien question reminds me of that movie Jacobs Ladder, where Tim Robbins is like always wondering what’s going on with himself, and why the outsiders (Aliens or monsters) plague him, he keeps looking for answers and then realises that this whole event is him working on ascending to heaven. I just keep thinking that we are experiencing visions of ourselves. And plus, when I asked the George Zimmer suit CEO guy if I could by him a drink, he was like, “No thanks man, I don’t need the stuff, in this great state the weed is so good I don’t need alcohol...”