THE UNITS are
the first San Francisco band to perform using no guitars ...Their
rhythms are very strong, insistently grounded in aggressive rock 'n'
roll as a base for a whole range of sonic textures that synthesizers
can provide. Finally, New Sounds -- live and loud! Their sets are
fast and short and full of visual information -- usually 2 films are
simultaneously projected on twin screens to the sides of the stage.
| This quote sort of
applies to what our band is trying to do: FULL OF LIFE MEANS FULL
OF COLOUR. GREY IS THE COLOUR OF DEATH - ART OF OUR CIVILIZATION, A
CIVILIZATION BEARING THE MARKS OF DEATH, A DYING CIVILIZATION. I HAVE
NO INTENTION OF DYING WITH IT, AND THAT'S WHY I BECAME A PAINTER. (Hundertwasser)
S&D: Did you ever try painting?
UNITS: I've just done watercolors, but I became more interested in making films. The UNIT TRAINING FILMS are a sort of revenge & parody on institutionalized teaching, on forced perception, faulty education exposed. In a way they're my idea of what the breakdown of the "computer" mind would be like....
S&D: What film footage did you use?
UNITS: Educational, technological, pornographic, family-home movies -- scenes taken out of context and redirected into sections like FRIENDSHIP THROUGH TECHNOLOGY, USES FOR THE HANDS (that went over well at the Deaf Club!), etc. I like to take supposedly serious footage like Mel Bay & his charts showing you the "correct way" to sit & hold the guitar next to corny stuff like old home movies of your brother wobbling his knees while playing a cheesy Japanese guitar -- aping Elvis. Or Pete Townshend doing his leaps, only -- due to editing -- never coming down! I also animate similar photos from magazines and books, like year book faces, women applying eye makeup, hands handling different objects, etc. These go well with factory assembly line films...as do the home movies of family line-ups at Christmas and birthday parties....
S&D: Did you have to spend a lot of money acquiring your film footage?
UNITS: No -- it's almost free if you have time to do a lot of scrounging.
Like, I was walking around North Beach recently on a Sunday morning, the place was deserted, and I found some porno film just lying in the gutter. A lot of tourists buy that stuff on weekend nights & I assume that someone just dropped it.
If you're willing to sort through garbage bins there's a lot of good slides & film -- but mostly bad, of course. In the Film Lab District around Howard between 2nd & 5th streets, on garbage nights they set it out on sidewalks. I'm sure film labs & ad agencies, etc, do the same in other areas. I've also seen films in Salvation Army/Goodwill types of places. One good source is your parents' home movies! I've rephotographed those...
|S&D: How do you copy other
UNITS: For rephotographing film I set up my projector on a table and my camera on a tripod about 12 inches away from the screen (smooth white paper works well & is cheap). I open the lens up all the way, F1.8 or F.2, & run them both at about the same speed. For TV, I shoot the screen at about 16 fps to avoid chromabars.
S&D: How'd you get started making movies?
UNITS: I've been making movies for about 10 years but got started on the "Training Films" when a school threw out a bunch of old films and a friend gave them to me. The films I'd been making up to that point had scripts & actors, & it was a lot of fun just to Edit. I felt I had the film by the balls for a change instead of vice versa....
All my equipment is used and was pretty cheap. Like, I got hot Bolex for $30 seven or eight years ago...
Our rear screens are shower curtains from Pay & Save that cost $3 apiece. Bell & Howell & Kodak stuff seems to be OK used and cheap....
I've scoured a lot of bookstores for photographs to animate. The best science & anatomy pictures come from medical or biology textbooks from the 50's. They spent a lot more money on the printing process & the paper itself in those days.
WARM MOVING BODIES
Out of six million sperm cells, I came in first
and won a warm moving body, a warm moving body.
We are the ones, the ones that got the bodies,
The warm moving bodies...
Skyscraper cells, full of water.
A portion of water, structure and substance.
Scientifically different than the monkey...
Look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp, see sharp
head to foot & cellar to attic...
we are the ones, ones that got the bodies.
Versatile hands & a well-developed larynx,
a nose that blows & tongue that licks...
"All our equipment was slowly ac-
quired in the American way -- the in-
"People make vague comparisons of
us to other synthesizer groups like
KRAFTWERK, TANGERINE DREAM, etc., but
we don't really see the connection --
just because we use synthesizers!!
We're definitely a high energy rock
band in comparison...."(3)
|"I wanna take your red out dancing,
I just wanna take your red out
I promise not to take her to the saxophone cemetery...
I'll even wear a wig, I'll sit on the third-degree sofa...
I'll try to take the questions out of my eyes...
I just want to take your red out dancing!
Don't make me spill your blood over this lousy carpet!"
"Like the blood in my veins
I drive around the same old lanes
with windows up at a hundred & ten
now no more time, no more space
just energy..until I stop some place
I WANNA BE A BLUR, I WANNA BE GO...."
"I see a lot of people lined up in formation
waiting for lively moments..
lines & lines & lines & lines & lines of people...
waiting for a victim
people out there lying, just waiting to be discovered
rows & rows of graves thinking they'll be discovered
This is a generation of cannibals...."
"Some people think we must be rich
kids or art students because we play
synthesizers and show movies. But in
fact -- I'm a tile setter, Richie
works in a garage, and Tim does a
street act...." (3)
Out of my Pocket
Out of my pocket, where does my money go...
Into the pocket of the man with all the dough
The rich man, he never helps the poor
He takes all we have and still wants more...
Safeway shoppers think they're savin' cents
but they don't know where their dollars went...
"It feels so good to be alive
to feel the rush of our times
It goes so fast I could lose my mind!
They grab my soul & take me away..."
SECOND OF TIME
OUT OF MY POCKET
WARM MOVING BODIES
HIGH PRESSURE DAYS
I WANT TO BE GO
A E I O U
TRIBUTE TO GALVANI
I WANNA TAKE YOUR RED
SAY WHAT'S THAT?