Holy crap! I still can’t believe Chuck Dukowski Sextet is going to play our next Save Music in Chinatown punk rock matinee/benefit show. I’ve never met the original bass player for Black Flag in person–although I’ve talked to him on the phone and seen him play a few times (pics below)–so it was a long shot when I asked. But not only were he and his wife/partner/collaborator/inspiration Lora Norton down but he added that they were fans of GR magazine and loved Chinatown, too. Yes, I have been stoked ever since.
To get all of you as amped up for the show as I am, here’s a quick Q&A with Chuck and Lora about their post-punk jazz combo, family, art, and Chinatown.
MW: So amped that your combo will be playing our benefit for kids in Chinatown. Can you tell me about the Sextet’s impressions on the neighborhood? Memories of music or otherwise?
CD: I’ll always remember playing The Hong Kong Cafe with Black Flag. It was an important rite of passage. At the time The Hong Kong was the place that you really strived to play. I remember seeing The Germs, X, The Plugz, and so many great bands in Chinatown. The whole plaza became a punk rock mecca. If people couldn’t afford to get inside, they would hang out outside where they could still hear the music. I always made of point of paying to see bands because I wanted to support everyone’s efforts. Back then almost every band you saw was really good.
LN: Chinatown is one of the best places in Los Angeles. Just recently, Chuck and I went to an opening at Shepard Fairey’s gallery on Sunset and we went to eat at Ocean Seafood on Hill. We often have Dim Sum there, too. I bought a beautiful and weird sculpture of rats and peaches at Wing Hop Fung on Broadway. That is the best store! I love the architectural aesthetic of Chinatown; it’s so over the top. I am glad to see all the art galleries but I wish they still had venues for bands!
MW: I saw that the CD6 played Historical Monument #157 recently, which is just north of Chinatown on Broadway. How was that spot? That gig?
LN: We had a great time at HM157! It is a beautiful old Victorian mansion with colored glass windows and a lovely big porch. I am an architecture nerd so it was a real joy to play the spot. When I was a teenager no one dared to have shows somewhere so pretty and fragile. The audience would just destroy things. It is life affirming that young audiences can dig heavy music yet not thrash their environment. And I have the best time playing with young bands. I feel very lucky to play in a band with my oldest son and that his generation embraces us.
MW: It seems like the CD6 just starting to play out a bunch of shows. Do you get into music mode sometimes or do shows just happen in clusters naturally and you roll with it?
LN: Chuck always wants to play every gig! I used to be more critical and choosy about shows but ultimately I realized that it’s hard to tell if a show will be great or not! Big size does not always make the funnest gig. It is amazing to play for a large crowd but sometimes a small gig with the right audience is even better!
CD: We will be playing San Francisco in June. We are going to see our son Isaac graduate from UCSC and then do a SF gig with the band Frightwig.
MW: I have to admit that after I totally gushed about the Eat Your Life CD in Giant Robot way back when, I have been out of the loop regarding CD6. Can you tell me a little bit about how the band has evolved since then?
LN: I think the biggest difference from our first album is the evolution of our son Milo’s musicianship. When we started he was only 16, but now his songwriting and playing have just exploded. He reads and writes music and he practices for hours everyday. He makes me proud–especially since I have not been the kind of parent that forces his or her children to practice their instruments! Milo is a world-class guitar player and when you add the fact that he is a professional contortionist/acrobat, we can put on quite a family show!
MW: Lora, your visual art has always been a big part of the band’s releases and flyers. Can you tell me what you’re up to in these days as far as illustration and design go?
LN: Chuck has always encouraged me to make the covers and fliers for the CD6. He is very generous with encouragement. I don’t make “punk” art like Raymond Pettibon or even Shepard Fairey. I don’t fit with hardcore purists. I just have to make what is beautiful to me. I am working on illustrations for our new release, which has a sort of dark fairy tale theme. I also wrote and illustrated a children’s book. I keep thinking about doing a more adult-illustrated story but I need to work a bit harder! That last year has been pretty crazy with the FLAG lawsuit and everything…
MW: I’m not going to get into the Black Flag lawsuit because the only real thing that we need to know is that it’s over. Chuck, what are some other things that you’re gonna catch up/dig in on now that large amounts of your time and energy are yours again?
CD: We are going to release the new CD6 album and I hope that we will be performing more. I want to play music with new people and see where that leads, too. I am excited about all the projects by the kids in our family. Mira has another new book coming out and Milo has a fucking great solo project as well as music with Insects Vs. Robots.
MW: I love how you play with FLAG (FYF was super fun and I was at the GV30 show at the Santa Monica Civic, too) but also hang with young bands like No Age and The Shrine. How do you stay in touch with new sounds? Do you approach the bands? Do they hit you up?
CD: I genuinely love new music and to be around people who are engaged in making something fresh. The guys from The Shrine and No Age are stellar people. I like to be open to people and not be elitist or jaded. The CD6 is a family band and an intergenerational band. I consciously try to share information and experiences with younger bands. The divide between generations of artists is negative. There are so many ways we can all help each other.
MW: Anything else that you just gotta share?
LN: A photo of me and my oldest daughter Mira was in one of the earliest issues of Giant Robot. We went to go see Ultraman fight Baltan at a convention and someone from your magazine took our picture! I have learned about some of my favorite artists, like Junko Mizuno, through Giant Robot magazine. I’m a big fan!
For more information about the benefit, which happens on Sunday, May 18 at Human Resources, check out the Save Music in Chinatown 3 Facebook event page. For ticketing, there’s the Eventbrite page, too.