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“But I couldn’t do it, because I was so unhappy,” he says. Now I’m happy.” That first record was 1990’s , an experimental, crudely recorded effort that — under his newly christened Smog alias — found him relishing the process, with little regard for form or the guitar he was still learning to really play.
“A lot of it was the excitement of having a tape recorder and making noise and listening back to the way that the microphone and the tape heads would change and distort that sound,” he recalls.
“It’s kind of rare to meet someone that doesn’t bug you,” Callahan says.
“But everyone liked her right away, just the way she is. I think she likes life, that she’s happy to be alive.
Though it was yet another proposal for a tour documentary, her approach was distinct, Callahan says.I’d drive out to places I’d never been, just to go and see it.” He liked “the stuff that was really weird and loose,” he says, “SST stuff like Black Flag, Dinosaur Jr., and Minutemen, stuff that people were calling punk even though it wasn’t.” And though he wouldn’t go on to write or record anything quite like it, hardcore’s DIY ethos quickly shaped Callahan’s creative worldview, as evidenced by , a mid-’80s zine that he wrote and distributed and would prefer not to discuss, as well as the cassette recordings he included with several issues.He tried to “go the square route,” tried to “go to school and get a job,” even enrolling at the University of Maryland for a few semesters.“It’s partially about defining things,” he says of his writing now.
“Defining the smallest little aspect of life that gives you pleasure.” Loose, comfortable, and decidedly less insular than anything he’s recorded in years, sounds like an album that Callahan took genuine pleasure in making.
Sitting at the foot of a desk stacked with drawings and notebooks and errant pages, Callahan extends his body into a near-yogic pose, reaching out over a wrinkled bed sheet that covers the middle of the floor like a pool of mayonnaise, pinching and pulling it to create the illusion of rugged terrain. ” he asks, the old floor fan in the hallway pushing cloud-like vapors from a tray of dry ice past his face.