Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Punk Rock Icon: A Q&A With Henry Rollins

A couple years ago, Dakota Gilliland joined the GAD! Zine ranks, first with his unique art, and soon after, with his wonderful interviews. He continues to contribute his writing to both the zine and this blog with enthusiasm. There's a lot more to come, but in the meantime, check out this Q&A that Dakota conducted with the legendary Henry Rollins of Black Flag/Rollins Band way back in 2015....

GAD!/DAKOTA: You've become such a major icon for the punk rock community. Did you ever think what you were doing would have such an impact on people?

HENRY ROLLINS: I have always done everything creatively motivated; writing, music, etc., to do it. To be able to do something completely, to hit it as hard as you can and give all to it, something like music, that's all I have ever tried to do, all I ever wanted to get out of it was the opportunity to expend energy. I had no idea that anything I did in this mindset would matter to anyone. I have never written anything, done anything on stage thinking, "This will...." I have only tried to be clear. That anyone cares about what I do has never ceased to surprise me. I think I am lucky to feel this way because it allows for me to not lose the plot.

People are afraid of failure. How did you decide to leave the head manager position of your job and become a lead singer in a band?

It was audition for my favorite band and by doing so, risk success/failure or wake up the next morning and go back to the same job and spend a life time wondering what could have been. What would you have done? Exactly.

How has social media and the internet affected the music scene?

I don't think there is enough time or space to answer that fully because the effect has been so top-to-bottom, from the mechanical to the ethical to even how we consider music, it turns into a topic that is almost as big as music itself. On the not so great side of things, the industry and now even the fans have found ways to make sure musicians stay struggling for a means by which to feed themselves and have a life that escapes fiscal anxiety. On the good side, I think that the internet is allowing for people to reward their curiosity by going to a band's site and listening to music for free and maybe becoming a fan, or allowing their interest to become more enhanced and by doing so, find out all kinds of music, bands and artists they never would have found otherwise. The internet is partially responsible for a ridiculous amount of records in my collection.

With most of our scene being raised in the heart of the Bible Belt, religion plays a part in almost all our lives. Do you think punk rock and religion can coincide?

I think you can have faith and anything else. Faith and Darwin, marriage equality, etc. It all depends on who you're dealing with at any particular time. Some religious people can be very intolerant of certain ways of going about things. Personally, I make most of my decisions as to what's good and bad / right and wrong by seeing if any issue passes the smell test Constitutionally. Some religious people will always see something like Punk Rock as anathema to what they stand for. Some punks might find aspects of one or any religion to be lunacy.

Any advice for anyone out there trying to get their music heard?

If I were trying to do it in 2015, I would use a Bandcamp page. Get heard for free and then set up a pay option. Everyone gets to check you out and you're not sitting on boxes of records that will go unsold.

Interview and Art by Dakota Gilliland
[Originally appeared in GAD! Zine Issue 9]

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Super Review: A review of the first levels of every SNES Star Wars

Super Review
A review of the first levels of every SNES Star Wars
By Dakota Gilliland

I can already hear you. “Why would this nerf herder only review the first levels? Why not just review the game as a whole?” I wish I could tell you it’s because I’m punk af and will do things how I want to, but the truth is I never got past the first level on most of these games. I made it to level three once on Super Jedi, but these games are HARD! My mom divorced my dad when I was 2 years old and lucky for me, she remarried a dude whose son had an SNES and all three classic platformers. SCORE!

super star wars.jpgSuper Star Wars
Pterodactyl birds, Alaskan bull worms, and scorpions. Oh My! You begin this level as Luke in the Dune Sea on Tatooine. Your weapon is a blaster which is fine for this level but proves pretty worthless in the later levels. Getting dive bombed by bird creatures is a recurring theme throughout the series and is more annoying than anything. The boss of this level is the Sarlacc Pit Monster (couple movies early, I know.) His attacks are pretty weak. He can hit you with his tentacles or by throwing rocks. What makes the boss fight difficult is the fact that the entire frame is set in a pit of quicksand. Keep your finger on that blaster and you shouldn’t have many problems taking him down though.

super emire.jpgSuper Empire Strikes Back
I’m not sure where it officially ranks, but Empire was DEFINITELY the hardest for me. You begin the level as Luke on the frozen planet of Hoth. We have, however, upgraded our blaster for a lightsaber. (I also want to add that these games are absolutely beautiful. There’s just something about that classic 16 bit artwork that gets me all warm and nostalgic.) Not only have you upgraded from your blaster, but you also start this level with a TaunTaun that you ride like Yoshi. I mean, this thing is pretty quick. Enemies you’ll bump into on this level include ice spikes that shoot from the ground, these spiky ice porcupines, and (you guessed it) dive bombing birds. At a point in the level, you enter a cave in which you fight miniature Wampas and eventually end up fighting the mama grizzly. The Wampa boss fight is pretty tough. He takes up the entire frame and can do damage with his arms and ice breath. Although you have your lightsaber, you definitely want to go with your blaster on this one. It’s much more powerful than the one from the previous game. Especially if you power it up.

super jedi.jpgSuper Return of the Jedi
This is my favorite of the game and film series. Wanna fight about it? This level begins as you battle  your way through the entrance to Jabba’s Palace. This time around, you can choose your character. This level lets you choose between Leia, Luke, and Chewie. Leia is the popular choice, but I like to use Chewie for his spinning charge attack. Remember those tiny bird creatures from before? Well they’re back. And they’re big. They randomly will pick you up and carry you back to various parts of the level and drop you from the sky. Not too frustrating if you weren’t trying to land on tiny floating platforms. Most of the time this means falling to the bottom floor of the level, or to your death. The boss of this level is the little robot from the movie that C3 and R2 meet at Jabba’s gate except 50x bigger and will not hesitate to crush you. He’s actually not too bad if you use your character’s charge attack. He was pretty tough to beat as a kid and I’m sure Han is eternally frozen in his carbonite prison on many cartridges around the world to this day. - GAD!