Lach

The Founder Of Antifolk Defines The Genre

The world is filled with generic music that becomes overdone due to corporate swarming to its potential monetary value. While this type of music is more popular, mainstream, the creation of a style that may not attract the majority of listeners takes true courage to develop and distribute.

Lach has done this, and has inspired others to do the same. His desire to create music inspired by the Clash and Sex Pistols, as well as '60's folk, led to the creation of the antifolk movement. The style can be heard in works of Beck, the Moldy Peaches, Michelle Shocked, and others, according to www.antifolk.net.

This happened in the early '80s, after Lach turned his apartment into a completely illegal club called the Fort. Distanced from what he was hearing in folk music at the time, he started his first Antifolk Festival, as well as a new musical movement.

Lach's antifolk album "Kids Fly Free" is punk-based fun, bleeding as much electricity as possible from an acoustic guitar. His lyrics are as cynical as his vocal style, slowly dancing on the listeners' funny bone, and provoking his or her mind into thought.

Lach's grasp on his art is demonstrated by his ability to speak his mind with clarity now matter how out there his lyrics might be. The recording is not digitized and features crafty gaps and spaces between instruments and melody lines that much of today's corporate rock doesn't.

His musical arrangements are daring, sometimes expressing the melodic motif in a simple, surfy bass line played by Roy Edroso. Innovative instrumentation stands tall and feverishly behind Lach's passionate, pleasantly harsh vocals.

The songs on the CD, produced by ex-Bongo Richard Barrone, strip down the sugar-coated enhancements that normally distract from them, leaving the bare essentials needed to get Lach's message across. In true folk spirit, Lach says what he has to say without censoring himself, leaving interpretation to the listener.

What his lyrics do hold that much folk cannot is the tightness of some of the greatest rock writers, such as Joe Strummer. Lach's words and music groove together. Labeling his music, however, is misleading. Only by creating his own style of music has Lach done it the most justice.

When did you start playing music? How long did it take you to get serious?

I think I was born playing music. In fact, I am thinking of releasing my pre-natal symphonies. I began piano lessons when I was five, though I already knew how to play from spying on my older brother and sister playing their lessons.

What musicians did you listen to then that you still listen to now?

Well, when I was a little boy I played and listened to Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and I still do. Grieg, Chopin, Haydn too.

When did you start playing in bands? What were some of the band names? What type of music was it?

I got into rock through '77 punk. The first album I bought and kept for myself was "Nevermind The Bullocks, Here Come The Sex Pistols". After that, I got the Clash, the Jam and the Stranglers. I knew writing songs and being in a band is what I wanted to do.

My first band was called Bandit. The guitarist was a preacher's son and we rehearsed in the church. I played keyboards and my oldest friend Norman showed up at first rehearsal to play bass. We had no idea we both were joining the band. We were pretty lame, but it was fun blowing joints and blaring Kiss songs from the altar.

After that, we started a heavy metal cover band called Nitrous Oxide. I was now about 16. We opened up with "Tie Your Mother Down," by Queen. I was allowed to sing two songs, "Detroit Rock City" and, only if we had completely depleted our repertoire, I was allowed to sing "God Save The Queen" by The Sex Pistols. The band lasted a summer.

My next real band was Proper id. We played together throughout the 80's and released one single. It was a magic band made up of old, close friends. We had musical telepathy. We broke up and reformed a few times and they play on my first CD, "Contender". The label was owned by Danny Goldberg, who was managing Nirvana, so we thought the big time loomed. But, the label went bankrupt three months after the CD came out. Since then all of my bands have basically been backing musicians like The East Street Band or Prince's Revolution. Proper id was the last democratic kind of set-up.

My current line-up, Lach and The Secrets, has been together for about three years and I couldn't ask for a better rhythm section. They are like the best punk rhythm section around, Billy Ficca of Television on drums and Roy Edroso of the Reverb Motherfuckers on bass. They play on the latest CD, "Kids Fly Free".

The CD is on Fortified records in the states and you can get it at Tower, Virgin, etc. or through amazon.com or antifolk.net.

What inspired you then to play music?

Life. Other bands and songs. Love. Anger. Revenge. Redemption. Beauty.

Despair.

What inspires you to write songs now?

The same, I guess.

What makes a great song?

The right marriage of words and music. I could go on and on as songwriting is one of my favorite subjects. But I am in the middle of getting the Summer Antifolk Fest together and planning the band's September tour of the UK. Time is tight.

What do the musicians you work with add to your music?

When I bring a song to the band, I play it through once for them. Then we start to go over it together. Billy is a great arranger and he really listens to the lyrics. He gets inside what the song is about and his drumming reflects it.

Our musical relationship is sort of like Moon and Townshend, or Bonham and Page, in that there is a lot of conversation between the drums and the rhythm guitar, between the drums and the words.

Roy is from a real punk, East Village background but he is also a brilliant writer, a great mind. So his bass parts combine a driving force that also can have the right incisive delicacy as well. On the albums we employ outside musicians from brass to strings.

Our producer, Richard Barone, is very much a member of the band when we are recording as far as adding ideas and things. He is destined to continue to be one of the defining producers of the next decade. I know that sounds wild, but watch and see.

Can you describe what "antifolk" is and how it applies to your songs?

No. I have been asked this question about what is antifolk too many times. The scene has been going on for 15 years. You should know what it is by now. It's like asking Dr.Dre what 'Rap' is.

Who are some other antifolk artists?

Well, some of the artists who have come out of the Antifolk scene would include Beck, Michelle Shocked, John S. Hall, the Moldy Peaches, Hamell On Trial, Major Matt Mason USA, Rick Shapiro and tons more. Check out antifolk.net and antifolkonline.com to learn more.

Can you take me through your creative process a little? How long does it usually take for you to write a song and what leads to its creation?

Once I realized I was a songwriter I went about creating a songwriter's body. It's a secret how it is done. Now, I write most songs in the time it takes to sing them. It's ineffable. My teachers were the artworks of others. From Dylan to Rimbaud to Kerouac to Whitman. From Strummer to Lennon to Waits. It's all out there for the young poet to find, but beware the abyss and exult the innocent.

Who are some contemporary artists that you like? Ones you dislike?

I am not sure what you mean by contemporary. Is there a cut-off time? Is Bob Dylan contemporary? Is Oasis? Beethoven?

Where do you see the music scene in five years?

Music has always been affected by the technology of the time. The invention of the piano changed everything. Digital technology will obviously change everything about the market place as well as what sounds we will hear. Times are so tender now. However, no matter what, people will want to hear and sing songs. It is part of human nature.

What plans do you have for the upcoming year?

August 2nd-11th will be the annual Summer Antifolk Fest that I hold at Sidewalk Cafè (94 Ave. A, NYC). This year we also have two outdoor concerts, August 3rd in Tompkins Square Park and the 11th in Central Park.

On August 3rd we will also have our first Antifolk parade in the East Village leading to the park concert.

After that I am bringing my band Lach and The Secrets to the UK for a tour over there where my CD "Kids Fly Free" was released on Track Records on May 7th.

Being on Track is cool, they first put out The Who, Hendrix and Johnny Thunders. The tour was booked by the Agency Group who also handle the Strokes and the White Stripes.

When we return home I hope to head back into the studio to begin work on my next album.

Josh Davidson
Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.
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