Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Gravy Train!!! vs. Jared Swilley of the Black Lips

Posted By on Wed, Oct 1, 2008 at 2:30 AM

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In the October issue of Maximum RocknRoll Brontez from the Bay Area multicultural Queercore/pop/Electroclash leftover whatever you want to call it band Gravy Train!!! writes a scathing installment of a column, called "She's Over It" in which he points some pretty damning words at Jared Swilley from the Black Lips, painting him as a racist.

The column begins with a disclaimer, "TO ALL COLUMN READERS: I'M ABOUT TO TALK HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLA SHIT (be warned...)"

From there he begins the column with "Fuck Jarrod [sic.] from the Black Lips."

In his column, Brontez tells a story about hanging out at B Jay Womack's, which is known to the locals as "The War Room," after Gravy Train played a show at The Drunken Unicorn a few months back. He goes on to include some pretty illicit details, such as "Everyone was popping shrooms" and "...doing shitty coke..." He also adds that he got cozy with a "hot hooker boy on the couch."

From there he describes a party that sounds like a scene lifted straight out of Gummo. A tanning gun was being passed around and Brontez claims that Klan jokes, immigration jokes, and various racial and ethnic jokes were thrown about so flippantly that afterward one member of Gravy Train!!!, keyboard player/dancer FUNX (who is of both Jewish and Latino descent) felt so alienated that she cried afterward for not speaking up.

This is perhaps the best part of Brontez's rant:

"My homegirl had to sit down in the other room and come down on shrooms and listen to those hipster redneck motherfuckers talk all of this insane pro-Klan shit about how 'the Mexicans' need to 'quit complaining' and pull themselves out of poverty like the Irish Catholics..."

Anyone who knows or has spent any time around the Black Lips, whatsoever, knows that they like to test the limits of acceptable social behavior, but racists they are not. Brontez's account sounds like he was having a bad trip, and because of his admitted drug use, his story seems to be a bit suspect.

I caught up with Swilley on his cell phone at a golf course in Los Angeles. At first he was reluctant to even comment on the article, but after reading parts of it to him over the phone he opened up.

"It surprised me a lot to hear about it," says Swilley. "I thought we were friends. We partied with them after the show in Atlanta, and it bums me out to be called out like that. The guy was making out with another guy on our couch all night and none of us were uptight about that. You know ... I grew up going to all black churches, the guy who is producing/recording the next Black Lips record is black and our manager is gay. I don't even remember what we were joking about that night and I don't remember saying any of that stuff. The guy Brontez or whatever wasn't even in the room! I think he's majorly embellishing.

I mean ... There are legitimate problems with racism in the world. It sucks that he's calling out someone like me, who is the antithesis of a racist."

Swilley added that a few months back Brontez approached him to try to help Gravy Train!!! hook up with Vice Records, an offshoot of Vice Magazine which is HELLLLLLLLLLLLA well known for not exactly being a bastion of political correctness. "If he doesn't get that kind of humor, I don't think he really thought that one through."

Swilley's Gaye Blades bandmate B Jay Womack (a.k.a. Bobby Ubangi) was there and recalls, "I remember eating a lot of mushrooms and everyone laughing a lot. There might have been a few off-color remarks made, but they were jokes! It was all done in fun and it's really fucking childish that he wrote that column and it's even shittier that they published it. It feels like something I would have read in Maximum RocknRoll like 15 years ago."

Brontez was not available for comment at the time of this post.


At 5:14 p.m. on Wed., Oct. 1, the night after publishing this post, Brontez returned my request for a comment via Myspace, which says "the only comment im willing to give is that i stand by everything i've written and i think jared owes a MAJOR public apology to Funx (my bandmate). thanks for reading my column!"


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