Saturday July 4: "HEROES"- The IndepenDANCE Day Edition Click HERE for the "HEROES" July 4 flier Terri's Birthday Bash (there WILL be cake!) + I start a "Month of Depeche Mode" Giveaways - enter to win concert tickets to see Depeche Mode live @ The Comcast Center in Mansfield MA on Friday July 31 all month long at these events: "HEROES" Saturday July 4 XMORTIS Friday July 10 "HEROES" Saturday July 18 "HEROES" Saturday July 25 all at TT the BEARS PLACE 10 Brookline St., Cambridge, MA Click HERE for the July "HEROES" Schedule flier DEAD POOL is Sunday July 26
at FLAT TOP JOHNNY'S
One Kendall Square Building 200 Cambridge, MA
I'll be giving away 3 pairs of tickets to see MARILYN MANSON live at the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival
at The Comcast Center (formerly Tweeter Center, aka Great Woods)
in Mansfield MA on Tuesday August 4.
Friday July 10: XMORTIS V - Our 5 Year Anniversary Click here for the XMORTIS V flier. DJ Chris Ewen and special guest DJ Mothra. Enter to win one of 3 pairs of tickets to see VNV NATION Live at the Paradise Friday July 17 with special guests War Tapes, AYRIA & DJ Chris Ewen. + More DEPECHE MODE ticket giveaways! TT the BEARS PLACE 10 Brookline St., Cambridge, MA XMORTIS on MySpace.
Wednesday July 15: VIGIL with DJ Dirge & DJ Chris Ewen NO COVER, 21 Plus, 9pm-1am MIDDLESEX LOUNGE 315 Massachusetts Ave, Central Square, Cambridge MA
Friday July 17: VNV NATION Faith, Power and Glory Tour 2009 at the Paradise Friday July 17 with special guests War Tapes, AYRIA & DJ Chris Ewen. This is the VNV Nation live flier. Details SOON on the OFFICIAL VNV NATION AFTERPARTY in the front room of The Paradise!
Tickets: $20 in advance, $23 day of show. All Ages. Doors at 6:30pm.
Tickets on sale now in person at the Paradise Box Office Monday – Saturday, 12pm-6pm (no service charge), by phone (877-598-8689), and online through LiveNation. PARADISE ROCK CLUB 967 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA
The NOISE: DJ Chris Ewen (Feature story Dec-Jan double issue)
DJ CHRIS EWEN
CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN: MOTHER SUPERIOR KEEPS THE SPIRIT ALIVE!
by Matthew Griffin
Chris Ewen had been a highly-regarded DJ at the now-defunct yet legendary club ManRay. These days he's still DJ-ing at various locations, but he actually started out as a musician in the '80s in the not-so-unknown band, Figures on a Beach.
Noise: When did you start out as a musician?
Chris: I started taking piano lessons when I was eight, and ended up with about 12 years of classical training. I also became very interested in electronic music in my teens. This was in the late '70s, so there weren't a lot of affordable options back then... no plug-ins or virtual synths to download off the Internet. I bought an ARP Odyssey and began fooling around with primitive multitrack experiments, and then purchased a Roland Jupiter 4, one of the first polyphonic synths (besides the Prophet 5) at the time. This kind of put me at odds with my classical instructors, so I set off to try to make some music with synths that wasn't prog rock. Punk was happening, and electronics were starting to make their way into underground pop music, so I felt like I was headed in an interesting direction.
Noise: Tell me about Figures on a Beach.
Chris: Figures on a Beach was born out of another experimental electronic band from Detroit named Razor 1922. The band split off into two camps, and I was asked to join one of them, probably because I was somewhat visible in the Detroit club scene at the time as a club kid, and one who owned some synthesizers! We received attention pretty quickly...it was pretty rare in the guitar driven Detroit punk and alternative music underground to have two keyboard players. We didn't sound like anything else happening there at the time. We dressed up, wore make-up, and sometimes built elaborate stage sets, so our shows were seen somewhat as events. Our early shows were in alternative spaces...art galleries, drag bars, and the like, and we built up quite a following. We also played all of the punk clubs, at the nearby universities. Soon we were opening for larger acts that came through town, like OMD, The B-52s, ABC, Adam & the Ants, and Ultravox, and began playing shows in New York, Chicago, and Ohio. We recorded a few indie records, and decided to move out of Detroit to pursue a more national profile, and also, let's face it, get out Detroit. We liked Boston because it was close to New York, but seemed to have a much more pleasant living environment. A few months after moving here, we got signed to Sire Records, and put out two albums for them. We toured, played a lot of local shows, had a video on MTV and got a lot of radio play as well. In the early 90s, after recording a lot of songs for a third album, frustrations with our management and the state of the music industry at the time caused some artistic tensions within the band, and we decided to part ways while we were on good terms with each other. We all still talk on a semi-regular basis, and at least three of us are still making music.
Noise: Figures on a Beach even opened up for Bauhaus in 1982. What was the experience like?
Chris: We opened up for Bauhaus in Chicago at the Metro. We saw them in Detroit the night before the Chicago show, and were very excited about playing with them. I remember both shows being pretty raucous, and Bauhaus were very gracious... really nice people.
Noise: When you came to Boston in 1987, how did you land the DJ gig at Ground Zero, which a few years later had landed you your crowning DJ gig at ManRay?
Chris: When I moved to Boston, I was already a somewhat renowned underground DJ in Detroit. I had worked at a couple of clubs there on a regular basis: Todd's and The Asylum. I secured a night or two at ManRay a few months after moving here. ManRay was more of a "mainstream" alternative club during the mid to late '80s...lots of Britpop, some goth and industrial, Belgian New Beat and Coldwave stuff... there wasn't a real segregation between musical genres. If it was good, probably an import, and preferably a little on the dark side, I played it. I was hired to spin two nights a week at Ground Zero when one of their DJs left, and used that opportunity to get a little more intense with what I was playing... a lot more punk and industrial tracks than what I could get away with at ManRay at the time. And the resurgence of a goth movement was happening, so the time was right to spin the music that no-one else was playing in Boston clubs. I was lucky enough to work at both ManRay and Ground Zero at the same time, two nights a week at each venue, so I was able to play a wide range of music, and Ground Zero was the initial meeting place for a lot of like-minded people mad and continue to make an impact on the underground music scene in Boston. It was also where I met Terri. She was the bartender and manager there, and we clicked immediately. That was an amazing time musically. Some great bands played at Ground Zero as well, like My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Pankow, Controlled Bleeding, the Young Gods, New Model Army, Joolz and Alien Sex Fiend, to name a few. Nik Fiend even had an art show there.
Noise: You were DJing four, five, sometimes six nights a week, for years! How do spend your time off?
Chris: I've spent a lot of my time writing and recording music, either with Stephin Merritt and Claudia Gonson of the Magnetic Fields as Future Bible Heroes, or my newest musical endeavor, the Hidden Variable, which is a collection of songs I wrote with some renowned dark fiction authors like Neil Gaiman, Peter Straub, Poppy Z. Brite, Caitlin Kiernan, Charles de Lint, China Miéville, Gahan Wilson, and Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked. Cosey Fanni Tutti from Throbbing Gristle and Carter Tutti even sings one of the songs. I'm currently trying to get it signed to a label, and am beginning the recording process for a new Future Bible Heroes album with Stephin and Claudia.
I read a lot, like to visit American roadside attractions, and spend time with my two chihuahuas, Edison and Tesla.
Noise: You have even won Best Alternative DJ in New England for a few years. How does that make you feel?
Chris: I'm very proud of that, and also feel somewhat vindicated... it's a joy to have been playing the music I love for so many years, and apparently have people appreciate it.
Noise: Let's talk a bit about your first few ManRay years.
Chris: When Ground Zero closed, I picked up a couple more nights spinning at ManRay. And rather than that being a death for the local goth and industrial scene, it helped make it prosper and thrive. As a nightclub in Boston/Cambridge at the time, ManRay had to compete with Landsdowne Street and all of their pretty unlimited resources... the Phoenix, WFNX, etc. We were able to cater to a segment of the nightclub population they ignored and disregarded—and had for years, and build something pretty dramatic, successful, and unique. ManRay was the starting ground for several DJs who've gone on to make names for themselves in the scene, including DJ Mothra and Punketta Doilie, and like you mentioned, a lot of wonderful local, national, and international acts graced ManRay's stage over the years... a few others include Apoptygma Berzerk, Covenant, VNV Nation, Chemlab, Jim Carroll, Haujobb, Pigface, One Of Us, Holy Cow, And One, and Wolfsheim.
It was a very unique environment in Boston, with our goth, industrial, gay, '80s, and fetish nights. We attracted an extremely diverse group of people, and did so for many years. Along the way, I've had the opportunity to work with and alongside a vast array of extremely talented, creative, and artistic people, and have made many lasting friends. I'm very proud of our accomplishments and of the local bands we supported over the years, particularly You Shriek and DDT. I'm still confident that ManRay will open its doors again. You can quote me on that!
Noise: Bartender extrodinare Terri Niedzwiecki had a lot to do with booking bands at ManRay and continues to work with you on new ventures, since the infamous shrine of Boston's gothic and industrial scene closed down in 2005. The two of you have made good business partners together over the years. Why do you think that is?
Chris: When I met Terri at Ground Zero, we clicked pretty much instantly, and have been dear friends ever since. And since we both wanted to make ManRay a place we would want to go to even if we weren't working there, we found kindred spirits in each other on both a personal and professional level. When ManRay closed, it just made sense for us to continue doing what we'd been doing. Besides both of us being identified with ManRay, I think that something bigger and better happens when we work together. And that holds true whether we're doing our thing at Xmortis and Night of the Dolls or at our own Heroes night.
Terri: We were married in a previous lifetime. I'm the Morticia Addams to his Gomez. It's obvious, isn't it? And anyone who's seen us together over the years knows that we can bicker and carry on just like a married couple!
Listen to Chris rip up the dance floor and have Terri intoxicate your senses at Xmortis, every second Friday of the month; Night of the Dolls, every fourth Friday of the month; and Heroes—a bi weekly event, all at T.T. the Bear's in Cambridge, MA.
Michael Marotta at the Boston Herald wrote an update on my club nights yesterday... Here it is!
"Let's party with the Lights Out" By Michael Marotta / Hotline Thursday, October 18, 2007
DJ Ewen on the move
Goth and industrial fans who followed DJ Chris Ewen from Cambridge's Man Ray to clubs in the Fens are getting acquainted with several new venues. Ewen's long-running new-wave night Heroes ended its Lansdowne Street run when Axis shuttered, and now the celebrated underground DJ has left Ramrod on Boylston Street, where he spun the biweekly goth/industrial Crypt party.
While Ewen searches for new homes for Heroes and Crypt, he's not just sitting on the couch listening to old Cure records. Catch him Thursday night at the Domina fetish night at Club Choices in Somerville, and Sunday at Dead Pool, the monthly pool-and-ghoul night at Flat Top Johnny's in Cambridge. Ewen is also maintaining his twice-a-month fetish parties at T.T. the Bear's Place.
Boston clubland is starting to get a bit dark. From Axis to Phoenix Landing to Flattop Johnny's, industrial music and its offspring — mainly the sound of machines and despair — are beginning to retake the night. To many who remember ManRay in Central Square, this is a welcome event; to some newbies, everything old is new again. "What I preach is that, the more good events that happen, even on the same night, the more people tend to go out and you have a bigger pool of people to draw from for each event," e-mails DJ MOTHRA (a/k/a Nate Roman), who, in addition to his Ceremony Mondays at An Tua Nua, is launching THUDfest at Great Scott on July 3. "THUDfest wouldn't have been possible a few years ago, or at least it wouldn't have worked." Other newer DJs — JUSTINCREDIBLE, DJ VOLVOX, PUNKETTE DOILIE — are appearing on the scene as well. "We have no shortage of DJs in this town," says Roman, "but we need to set the standard high."
That standard is CHRIS EWEN, the long-time ManRay resident DJ and current impresario of Saturday party Heroes, the monthly X-Mortis at T.T. the Bear's Place, and the Wednesday party Crypt at Ramrod in the Fenway. "I try to spin to a wide variety of people and people's tastes," says Ewen from his home on the edge of Worcester. "What I do that's different is more of a club thing. To play with the mood of a place, doing a lot of beatmatching. Changing the mood and building an ambiance for the whole night. It's not so much about playing one song after another."
Ewen's Heroes party moves to, of all places, Lansdowne Street and Club i-D (in Axis) starting this Saturday. "I see a lot of new faces, too, but there are ManRay faces all around," he says, recalling the legendary club, now a block of condominiums. "I started in 1986. I went in there and the DJ was playing one of my indie records from Detroit [Ewen's home town, where he was in a band] when we walked in! Seriously! It was really odd. So I went up and introduced myself and got a job there." The long-time Boston icon (and bandmate of Stephin Merritt in Future Bible Heroes) has also noticed the resurgence. "I'm seeing more of a DIY attitude in people's nightlife experiences. People are doing what I did when I started out. And a lot of the kids who used to go to ManRay are turning into promoters as well."
"I did go to ManRay," writes LAUREN DEVAIN, the proprietress of the monthly Black Magic party, which has moved from Shine Lounge in Kendall Square to the big room in Axis. "I was not a ManRay regular, but I did love what was happening there." Black Magic's next event will be with dark-electro duo Motor on June 30. "The alternative scene we have in Boston has not changed or grown in a really long time," Devain continues. "We want to put names like Combichrist in the hipster's vocabulary, and Black Strobe into the industrial fan's vocabulary."
Ewen adds, "They are seeing a void out there and are trying to fill it. They miss that dark and fun and sexy experience of being in a nightclub." He's careful not to pigeonhole his nights as gloomy, however. "Rather than having a certain theme for my nights, like 'Tonight is going to be ooky-spooky-gloomy night!', I try to mix it up so there's some energy but also the people who want to mope can mope. People like dancing to slow stuff, because they can get all sexy. It's hard to look beautiful stomping around to 138 beats per minute. It's not necessarily dark and light. It's us versus the system, in a sense."
All three promoters agree that the increase in industrial, goth, and dark electro on dance floors is a reaction to the dumbing down of nightclub culture. "It's pointless to worry about genres these days," says Roman. "I just focus on the tone of what I'm doing. You'll notice that THUDfest doesn't have any genre indications, but it's clear that it isn't hip-hop or Top 40."
"People are becoming more intelligent about their music," says DeVain, "and they don't want to have it mass-produced and handed to them." Ewen: "ManRay did have, and still has at my nights, very intelligent customers. Craig Mello, who won the Nobel Prize, used to be a ManRay regular! They are still out there, and they are looking for things to do."
Even DJEZUS (a/k/a DJ BALDUR), a Boston Phoenix Readers' Poll winner for Best DJ, recently released a mix called "I Can Be Black." "As in a dark room, you can't see what is coming, but you know what is," he writes via e-mail. "You know there is a dirty synth hiding there somewhere with the heavy bass beat. You make your way slowly across the room, and they hit you over and over, and you love it."
On the Web DJ Chris Ewen: http://www.myspace.com/chris_ewen