N O   P A R T   O F   I T
Far more important than baking bread is the urge to take dough -beating to the extreme - Otto Muehl

Friday, September 13, 2019

Interview Series #7: P. Michael Grego

The NO PART OF IT Interview series was a strain of questions sent to a number of different people between February and March 2019. Each entry was scheduled chronologically to be thrust upon the world on a monthly basis since then. Each individual is introduced informally as if they were being discussed at a bar.

 P.  Michael is the main impetus behind the now-legendary "avant-gospel / industrial" outfit ONO, who has been in existence since 1980.   This is all 2nd hand here, but I remember P. Michael saying that he grew up around where Curtis Mayfield, Billy Butler, Jamo Thomas, and a lot of other Chicago soul singers did their thing.  Grego was also friends with Al Jourgensen from Ministry around his high school years, and it resulted in ONO's first album being produced by him.  I have come to know these folks as people who have helped out a lot of troubled youth in their time.  I know that at one point there was some discussion about buying a house in Indiana to help wayward younguns.  I am quite sure some things were rough in 1980s Chicago for a band like this, of questionable sexuality and intentions!  I know that during the punk era, not only did punk rockers have their trouble getting venues and audiences, but so too did ONO, having played in racist settings and abandoned buildings (one of the buildings was still smoldering and without electricity, I was told), exclaiming "If You Came Here For Music, Leave NOW!"

 During the mid 80s, there was a strong hiatus with ONO, and P. Michael allegedly had a project called "Precious Sweet", and I've never been able to find recordings, but I have been told that they still get royalties for their (significant) songwriting/instrumentation on a track by My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult from the soundtrack to the movie Cool World.   

To be honest, when I first saw ONO, I thought they were improvising everything.  I didn't think they practiced at all, but having played with them a few times (they started without me on the official debut of my then-new project!), and interviewed them at practice, I have found that P. Michael quietly dictates what needs to be there and what is open-ended.  There are things that are debatable and things that are not.  It's a very interesting dynamic, as P. Michael sets up to either play keys, run samples, or play bass, as if he is in charge of the control room, by a guy who is very soft-spoken and generally quiet.  Most shows, he is sitting in a chair watching and not socializing unless provoked.  It may seem easy for him to be overshadowed, but there is a lot of character in there, I knew it when ONO did a jaw-dropping emotional performance during a David Bowie tribute / exhibit at the MCA, and I knew it when we rode back from Columbus, Ohio, listening to The Supremes and Patty Duke and Dionne Warwick, after I talked ONO into doing their first out of town show since ending their hiatus.  They did this all for my goofy ass because I was finishing my first real tour on a greyhound, and they knew I would be unhinged!    P. Michael is like the calm of the tornado.   Not to be underestimated!  

1.  What types of things have you been getting into lately?

Various types of coffees esp Turkish and using the Cezve to make it

Working on my sounscapeing and sampling skills and creating a collection of spacious sound to use in-performances

Reading lots of Samuel Delaney of course and sleeping to outer space sounds

2.  What you do, do you do it as an artist, or is it a hobby?  If you don't like that question, what do you have to say about true art (vs. "entertainment")? 

I used to call it art when I didn’t know any better . bitterness ,cynicism and possible depression has me confusing it with a necessary hobby ... I believe art is for the artist in you and entertainment is done for an audience not the artist or the creator

3.  How would you describe what you do?
A very nasty habit like smoking or like a candy addiction

4.  How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?

Passionate enthusiastic open creative naive
confused desolate despondent bitter resolved

5.  How would you describe your philosophy?

Perseverance is important . Don’t stop

6.  Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods?  If no, then maybe you'll share your favorite conspiracy theory (whether you believe it or not).  

Of course I grew up with that in my family, they are from NOLA I had my grandmother and aunt practiced that stuff ..I had my chart done in the 90’s and it layered out everything very clearly for me so ever since then I know what I can and what is really a waste of my time pursuing... like love and romance ... it will never happen for me and I know that so I don’t waste time on that stuff , don’t give much thought and I don’t feel I’m missing anything

7.  What would you say was your most definitive experience?

Starting up ONO had no idea it would go this long or this far

8.  Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of? If not, what is something you'd like people to know about you, that you don't think anyone would ever ask?

No I have no use for any side projects I’m busy enough living as is

9.  Would you care to name any theoretical "desert island" records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of "perfect"? 

Bitches Brew-by Miles Davis
That’s how heartaches are made -Baby Washington
Albert Ayler-various
Alice Coltrane various
Phil Spector various
CAN -various
have always been a major things for me the way they were put together

10.  What is the earliest childhood memory you can (or are willing to) recall?  

Wandering through my grandparents huge haunted mansion

11.  Are you able to appreciate other peoples' creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws?  To what extent? 

Not sure I think it depends on who it is I guess ...

12.  Do you have any heroes or heroines?  Who are they?  Feel free to add anything that makes them stand out. 

Not really .. probably my father would be it, he was a master musician and historian

13.  What would you like to have on your epitaph?  Or what is your favorite quote? 

Probably Groucho Marx “ any club that would have me it I would be suspicious of “

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