TRILOGY: My 2013 with Passed Out Juggalos & Insane Clown Posse // VICE, FasterLouder, Noisey

POJ girls Vice little2014’s imitation velvet curtain is falling,  but I’m so hip to the stir I’m only just now thinking about the end of 2013. Don’t even try to be me you’ll fucking explode. My vibe is a veritable war in heaven; a prototype for the confessions of an immortal being. Do these esoteric turns of phrase mask my middling self-esteem good? Last year was the Year of The Clown, little doubt. I wanted to know everything about Insane Clown Posse’s fandom culture after my brother-son and photo-dog partner in crime-jazz Nic Bezzina showed me the lovely ladies of Passed Out Juggalos. I spent months tracking these girls down for Vice. Months. Being that I’m in Sydney AU and they’re collectively spread out across Sacramento and Kentucky in the US, hey: Months. “Toby, why can’t you put that kind of journalistic verve into, I don’t know, important local issues?” Because naked clown babes, mother. It did not stop there. After establishing myself as a goddamn lunatic, The Year of the Clown would lead me into an interview with Violent J for FasterLouder and culminate in a really, really badly behaved attendance of Insane Clown Posse’s show at The Hi-Fi in Sydney for Noisey. Hi, skinny blonde chick with the glasses I got sticky with up the front? Good jive.

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FEATURE: The Story So Far Cry // Hyper

HYPER227_FarCry3-1Back in 2012 when Far Cry 3 was just a cool whisper on the island wind before it’d be a GotY typhoon, Ubisoft initiated Protocol Pre-Release Hype as big studios like to do because money and fame and bitches. Usually this will amount to a slew of carefully curated hands-on demos and maybe they’ll fly out a savvy media-trained PR rep (groan) or even a ‘community manager’ (wtf) to try to dodge your questions as deftly as possible while aggressively staying on-message. Ubi didn’t do that for Far Cry 3. They sent the game’s lead writer, Jeffrey Yohalem, instead. That, I thought, was awesome. At the time I was writing a bunch for Hyper, and just as I was about to petition them to send me over to talk to him, they’d already done it. “You think you’re a writer too, right?” Totally.

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INTERVIEW: Benicio Del Toro // AskMen [video]

Benicio Del Toro askmen interviewBeen writing in and around entertainment’s mouth for so long I wound up as AskMen’s entertainment editor for about two years there. It was a funny time. John Cleese told me some incomprehensible shit on speakerphone once. I talked to Dolph Lundgren about chicks and muscles. Then there was Benicio Del Toro. I am not shy about admitting that when we were dumb teens, my bestest bro and I saw Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, instantly ordained one another Raoul and Dr. Gonz respectively (he’s spindly and awkward, I’m swarthy and prone to sudden outbursts), and did a metric fuck-ton of drugs. This was also the first thing I said to Benicio Del Toro upon meeting him in the swankiest floodlit Sydney hotel room PR money can briefly rent.

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INTERVIEW: The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato // The Vine

The Dillinger Escape Plan have been feeding therapeutic fish heads to the chaos upstairs since I was about 14, around when Calculating Infinity came out. Man, that record. Greg Puciato wasn’t fronting DEP at that point, but he was by the time of their next LP, Miss Machine. Been taking shits into bags live onstage at Reading ever since. Greg’s my kinda person. I was having one of those days where I did not even care what I was saying and so was he. Magical #realtalk happened. For mi frens at The Vine.

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FEATURE: Making Music with the Screams of Mental Patients, Rape Victims, and Kids // NOISEY

Noisey Gulaggh screenCirca middle of last year I made contact with a band out of Holland who used to be called Stalaggh, but are now called Gulaggh. More a nihilistic collective than a band, they don’t make actual music per se but uncomfortably dark soundscape trips into human misery. The “human misery” part is too real: All those screams are clandestine field recordings of mental patients, prostitutes, rape victims, and damaged kids losing their shit. This was my debut for VICE’s music channel Noisey, and I suppose, yeah, jumping through a house party window and announcing “I AM A HEADCASE” can work for some people. Wouldn’t recommend it, though. I find it pretty hard to make friends.

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INTERVIEW: The Used’s Bert McCracken, “Through a Haze of Sole Remaining Vice” // HYSTERIA

Hysteria#18_TheUsed1Hysteria wanted to put The Used dude Bert McCracken and Parkway Drive man Winston McCall on the cover of issue #18 so they asked me, “Asshole, think of something.” Being a massive fucking genius I thought it’d be OK if we put Bert (who is tiny now he’s not a mad alcoholic anymore) in a shopping cart and made Winston (who is beefy now he’s still a good Aussie bloke) wheel him around a local supermarket. Afterwards Bert’s like, “You and me, let’s go to a bar and talk. I don’t drink anymore, but,” and he already had about five cigarettes already in his mouth and lit, “I do like to smoke.” Smoking is Bert McCracken’s sole remaining vice, and we real-talked through a haze of Stuyvesant for a long time about all kinds of everything.  Continue reading

FEATURE: Women of Cosplay Talk Sexism, Femininity, & Cookies in the Mail // IGN

mini cosplay wimminzThe sexism discussion in video games (such as it is) can be so retarded I can’t stand it. Any ‘discussion’ whereupon two implacable agendas and a fantastic dose of immaturity collide is good for boosting the popcorn industry’s share price but not much else. I figured if anyone’s gonna have a seasoned perspective on chromosomal division in ‘geek’ culture, it’s gonna be near-naked ‘n fearless cosplay ladies like Ardella, Black Cat, and The Vixen Gamer. Naturally, the comments section on this thing is gnarly with sexless hobgoblins and their throwaway idiocy, although I did laugh a lot at “Stop sexualizing sex! – Feminism.”  Come on that shit is funny. This was for IGN.

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INTERVIEW: Jeff Wood (Got Shot In The Head And Became Shat) // VICE

Jeff Shat Wood Vice thumb2I went to LA one time and got talking to Joby Ford from The Bronx. Joby’s into art and stuff and I like that.  We were vibing on all his cool album covers when he mentioned the time he did two pieces for a guy called Shat. Shat only wanted like, bad photos of himself having sex with a blow-up doll everywhere, no rhyme or reason. “He got shot in the head, and survived, at a party in Hollywood,” Joby explained. “But he’s ‘off.’ He’s not right. It changed him as a man. His whole brain is centred around sex. That’s all he thinks about now. He released an album with 69 songs on it that were all about 10 or 20 seconds long, and it’s all about sex.”

And by god did I go and find Jeff ‘Shat’ Wood. This was for VICE.  Continue reading

FEATURE: I’ve Failed, I Must Kill Myself // HYPER

HYPERJPN2_Samurai thumbSamurai were such badasses. Look at these guys, they have swords and hair and everything. Video games and pop-culture at large like to portray only the warlike and ritualised aspects of them, though. In truth, if you were a samurai bro and there was no fighting going on, life was boring as shit. And you were poor. You’d have to breakdance at roadside inns for your rice hooch like in Samurai Champloo, and it’s not like anyone was regularly dropping fat beats back then. You’d be busting out sick headpsins to the tune of, IDK, cicadas having chitinous grinding intercourse in the reeds. I explored the reality versus the interactive fiction of these ancient cicada dancers for Hyper‘s Japan special last year, ably assisted by Professor Kevin Mulholland of the University of Michigan.

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INTERVIEW: Tool’s Maynard James Keenan // triple j

Tool Maynard James Keenan interview smallThere’s this funny thing that can happen when you start hanging around music and writing about it and maybe feel like a cool badass for a while until you realise you’re still nothing and no one reads the byline: Certain bands seem to follow you around. Or you follow them around. Or they just find you, because the cosmic ballet does go on. Tool are like that for me (so is Opeth). Every time I have anything to do with Tool it’s just stupid. It all started when I was about 20 (check this out) and has persisted ever since. Earlier in the year I talked to Maynard James Keenan for triple j magazine #68 about his shitty old band he was in, Children Of The Anachronistic Dynasty, and it was stupid. Yes, again. Stupid like a fox!  Continue reading