Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Royal Quiet Deluxe (the Chicken Band)

Although Royal Quiet Deluxe never officially broke up, it is highly unlikely that we will return to stage and studio. Many would argue that our position as performance art legends in the Central Virginia region is cemented and unassailable, and they may be correct. The best way to preserve a legend is to never, ever do anything to tarnish it – even if that means never doing anything at all.

For now and the foreseeable future, Royal Quiet Deluxe is a dead concern. My writing is confined to laptops and percussion to drum sets – I no longer provide the rhythm for our music from a highly amplified antique typewriter.

Tim, Bird, Lawn

Tim’s musical efforts are similarly constrained. The thin walls of his crumbling, cluttered trailer will forever protect the world from Tim’s idle noodlings, which only happen on an unplugged electric guitar or bass. Americans will put a Frenchman in the White House before they see Tim Gordon return to the spotlight to play guitar and bass simultaneously.

The chickens are no different than any of the scores of shiftless session musicians in musical history. They were brilliant, impossible, and dumb as a sack of hammers, caring only about fighting, feeding, and fucking, and not necessarily in that order. They ruined as many rehearsals as they bothered to attend and slept through the first few minutes of every performance but never failed to move crowds to their feet, shouting and clapping for more.

Take 5, Girls

Both chickens exhibited a primal brilliance on the keyboards, pounding out primitive abstract lines at the speed of avian thought that would confound Coltrane and put Sun Ra to shame. But again, like so many anonymous genius session musicians, the birds stole the show, took their paychecks and vanished into obscurity. I can guarantee that they spent the remainder of their short, wretched lives scratching a living out of the dirt, dying anonymously in a ditch or the jaws of a marauding fox.

You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. I am not lying. For real. I had a highly experimental, much-loved series of performance art bands in my early twenties, and the most infamous of all was NOT the one that poisoned an audience with toxic smoke from burning aluminum. It wasn’t the one where the homemade pyrotechnics spattered on the guitarist and I shouted into a toilet I was doing a handstand over while wearing a mummy costume, high as a kite and roaring with fever.

At the Keys

The band was Royal Quiet Deluxe, featuring Tim Gordon on the bass and guitar, yours truly on an antique typewriter (pictured in pink up in my profile there) and several small chickens on the keyboards. We played to packed galleries in Richmond and had a tour lined up in Japan, and it all turned into powder the week of September 11th, 2001.

To the extent that my meager attention span can support it, I’ll spend the next few days giving you the story – the rise, the fall, and the bitter, empty present.

The following songs best exemplify our musical influences at that time. If you were to mash these three songs together somehow and have chickens perform part of them, then you'd have what we were shooting for.

Moon Dance -- Sun Ra and his Arkestra
Satan is Real -- The Louvin Brothers
Sister Ray -- The Velvet Underground

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