Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Talk Show(s)

It's very early in the process but it's been a very positive and constructive process promoting The Secret History of Rock 'n' Roll. The early adopters I've spoken with are tuned into the same wavelength, which make it all the more rewarding. That's subject to change, but I'm very proud of the interviews I've done so far and consider them all to be part of the overall Secret Sun canon. There are two blogger-views and two podcasts here, submitted for your approval.

As you point out in the book, making the connection (whether metaphorical or literal) between rock-n-roll with paganism and mystery religions isn’t new; some writers, like Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton, even postulated that the modern DJ is like the shaman of some ancient tribal societies. What led you down the path of making this connection? Was there a particular inspiration?

Living it. I got involved with the Boston hardcore punk scene in the early 80s and it was every bit a mystery cult. It was a secret society of outcasts who had their own very specific initiations, language and symbol system. In the book I liken hardcore to the violent Mithraic cults of the Imperial Roman era, which had a very absolutist view of the world. And seeing a lot of bands from that era who had a very powerful shamanic aura about them- the Clash and the Bad Brains both come to mind. Both bands drew inspiration from Reggae and an esoteric variety of Apocalyptic spirituality- as well as from hallucinogens. Marijuana, in this case.

Read the rest at The Wild Hunt here (or try this)

Next up is a talk with John at Theofantastique. This was about giving some equal time to Our Gods Wear Spandex. Again, another positive interview experience going on here:

TheoFantastique: I recently read a piece online which discussed the impact of H. P. Lovecraft on comics. You discuss his literary work, and that he was a self-professed atheist, but you mention that some question whether he had esoteric interests and connections given the cosmology and mythology he constructed. What types of esoteric influences have some attributed to Lovecraft, and regardless of his metaphysical views, how do you see him as an influence on contemporary comics?

Christopher Knowles: Well, a lot of the discussions of Lovecraft’s immersion in the occult have been from occult partisans. Kenneth Grant, who was head of the Ordo Templi Orientis, comes to mind here. Lovecraft was obviously aware of the occult since it was very much part of the pulp milieu- the counterculture of its time. I think he may have read some occult texts — maybe some Theosophical or Rosicrucian material — since he was a voracious reader and was looking out for story material. But Lovecraft to me was a guy who was very much in touch with an aspect of the unconscious mind that nightmares dwell in, night terrors, hallucinations — things like that.

Read the rest here. You won't be sorry.

And from yesterday- don't forget to check out my interview with Rob McConnell on The X-Zone. The interview is available on iTunes (click here) and The X-Zone podcast pages (click here). Also check out The X-Zone jukebox here. Here's the direct link for the iTunes podcast- click here.

Again, I'm very jazzed about this interview. If you're really tuned into what this blog is about, I think you will be too. And don't forget the Red Ice gabfest either...

Click here for Part 1:

Chris Knowles returns to talk about his new book The Secret History of Rock 'n' Roll -The Mysterious Roots of Modern Music that is connecting the modern Rock 'n' Roll phenomena to the ancient world, the ancient gods and the mystery cults. We talk about the emergence of Rock 'n' Roll, the genres, the state of the ancient world, Rome, religion, revolution, culture, counter culture, creativity, the Muse and the archetypal forces that are influencing musicians, even if they are aware of it or not....


  1. Hi Chris and all,

    The alien/UFO stuff continues -

    Apologies if these have been already posted


  2. Chris is I can say is WOWZERS! I can't wait to read you books and I'm going to have to read that interview again! - did you really manage to cram all that in one interview?
    I had no idea that you were working on this book. Did you know that Hardcore was banned from Portsmouth in England in the early 90s. I went there to visit some friends and they weren't even allowed to play it in their homes or cars. It was a total ban due to it having evil connections. It really made me wonder what music is all about. I think you may have found the answer to that question.

  3. 20 minutes into the X-Zone podcast. I'm with you all the way but I am waiting for you to start talking about electronic music.

    I highly doubt that the majority of people having ecstatic/transcendental experiences are at rock concerts.

    I think they're at raves and festivals like Glastonbury.

    Any weekend in cities around the world there are late night transcendental trance-inducing raves. They are much more Dionysian than rock concerts in my opinion. Maybe something like Grateful Dead is transcendental for some people but I think the world has collectively moved on from rock as being the most popular style in the world.

  4. Tara- Yeah, I covered that a few days back, but thanks anyway.

    Wotie- That's an interesting story- do you have any links on that?

    Jonah- Well, that's why I wrote the book- I address that in the first chapter. Something got lost with rock sometime back and it needs to be recaptured. I've been to a lot of dance clubs in my time- it's not about content, like rock 'n' roll. People will dance to anything and all you can usually hear is the beat.

  5. Hello. I've never posted on here before, but I've been a huge fan of the blog, and I'm super into the new blog as well, so thank you for all your hard work!
    I'm commenting because yesterday I was reading the commments on a post (a recent one which I cannot remember) and someone posted a link to a man who was kicked out of the Catholic church and he made comic books. I was in a rush, and didn't note the name, or save the link....just wondering if anyone has that info. (by the was a list of comments that sweet Lori was using quite a bit) THANKS!!!

  6. Do you know what, I'm having trouble finding anything and I mean anything. That is odd. It was in 1992 or 1993 I guess but it's still the sort of thing people talk about. Even happy hardcore was banned. I'm finding some weird on the hardcore front whilst looking. ;)


    They had to shut down an entire airport, because of this "ufo" that was later classified as a government experiment.

  8. Hi Chris,
    Another UK story... the eighties 'Peace Convoy' free festival circuit was growing into a substantial year round alternative society.
    Then rave culture arrived. Changed the whole tone and direction of the festivals and shattered the new society growing out of them. This 'scene', which was (and is?)rooted in traditional capitalism, used the trance inducing 'qualities' of the music to overwhelm what was seen as a serious threat to the authorities of the day.
    It even had its own 'designer' entheogen(?) to counteract the 'liberating' qualities of the earlier brands or natural varieties.
    Thatcher decared war on the free movement stating she would do everything in her power to destroy things like the 'Peace Convoy' and 'so called' New Age Travellers.
    I remember my first rave ('88 or '89) and knowing it meant the end of something powerful. The 'music' didn't invite or even seduce, it imposed.
    Best wishes

  9. Well if this ain't a mystery cult I don't know what is:

    You can still feel the holiness coming through your computer screen thirty years later. THAT is rock-n-roll. A rare and endangered species.

  10. 658- I'm sure someone can help you out. Someone?

    Wotie- Let us know.

    113- That's what I call the drip, drip, drip...

    j- You know, I'm glad you brought that up. I've always had very mixed feelings about that whole scene. It had all the trappings of a Dionysian culture, but there were jarring notes beneath the surface. And I do remember that war on the Travelers and the Crusties at the same time- I seem to recall it got pretty brutal.

    705- My first book was on the Clash so I hear you. Seeing the Clash in 1980 is the first experience I write about in the first chapter.

  11. Bryce-I'm doing anonymous, and putting my name up, as my LJ name doesn't seem to work.
    Just a weird little intuitive thingy - a quick reading of some of the rock and roll posts had me thinking of Robert Grave's (I think that's the right name. If it is, funky - lot of death symbolism in rock) 'The White Goddess.' Sadly, I've only read parts of it, as the book was in a friend's apartment. I'll probably have to get the book, but was wondering if you've covered the feeling that The Ramones had that there was some kind of bad luck curse following them around?

    Oh, I'm also reminded of a Doors biography where the band members allege that while they were on a plane, Jim Morrison was trying to explain the fundamental difference between him and Kreiger. He concluded that Kreiger (sic?) was Apollonian in nature, while he was Dionysian.

  12. Bryce-- funny you should mention the White Goddess, I've just finished reading it. Good stuff-- Graves basically says that all true poetry is an invocation of the Goddess-- literally. I tend to agree with him.

  13. Hi Chris,
    Yes, the eighties had a lot going on - and a lot of that was brought to a brutal end.
    I kept a few news cuttings - my 'favourite' mainstream headline of the time was 'Mud, Drugs and a Vision of Hell'. 'Medieval Brigands' was another... which was an odd choice coming from media-evil hacks.
    Beneath all the outrage, main events and plethora of new age mystics... a whole new culture was emerging.
    I also kept a few 'Tribal Messengers' - set up by John Pendragon, a fanzine for the festivals. Alan Lodge (known as 'Tash') did a lot to photo document the times.
    Your blog, and especially the Secret History of Rock and Roll linked some of my feelings from the time. And reminded me of the emergence of rave.
    Like you, it never seemed 'right' -it was too mechanical which took away any real heart which was replaced by (what I saw as) the false heart offered by ecstasy.
    Being there as festivals became invaded by the rave tents I saw and felt a real shift in (for want of a better word) energy.
    Apart from the sudden deluge of litter, even the grass around the rave tents seemed to die faster than anywhere else - and not because they got more traffic.
    There were other dark places - certain sites (crusties, brew crew) were literally and emotionally very dark.
    What's also curious is all that's really been taken away is the idea that this could happen without a clear focus or formal assignation of deity.
    A society was evolving without a defined reading (or ownership) of the underlying mythologies. An ownership which was reclaimed through comemrcialisation?
    And is perhaps in the process of being passed on to 'aliens'? God forbid it should be seen as just tales of seasons and cycles.


    Was Emo (emotional hardcore or emocore) the start of hardcore?

    I think a lot of trance house music originated in Ibiza but I might be wrong.I went to Ibiza on holiday in about 1986 and it was already big there.

    Can't find anything on hardcore being banned in 1992/93 in Portsmouth City UK. I haven't given up just yet though.

  15. Again,...

    this is all FETAL DRAMA stuff.

    Birth Fantasy [Break on Through].


  16. Miners in Chile...

    about to give birth

    as they come out of the birth canal.

  17. Just ordered a copy of the book. Oddly, I'm reading a book on Nietzsche and it speaks about his first work - The Birth of Tragedy Out Of the Spirit of Music. It's primary point is that the contrasting Apollonian (the art of appearances) and Dionysian (festivals and wild revelry) ideals were combined in the art of Tragedy. In this combination (by some interpretations), he felt mankind transcended the inherent meaningless of life, nihilism, by somehow combining the immediate dionysus experience of the festival with the artistic form of the play, plot and spectacle. Sort of mind and body - conscious and subconscious - unified by the tension between both.

    I wonder what he would think of rock videos.