In case you were wondering, avant-garde arts and music collective High Mayhem is still around—its members have just been busy starting families and stuff. No matter, though, as The Wires (three quarters of noise/art rock act The Late Severa Wires) dust off the ol' instruments and get to playing this Friday Jan. 5 alongside their fellow Mayhem-ers We Drew Lightning and Albuquerque's Bigawatt (8 pm. $5-$10. Ghost, 2899 Trades West Road). This doesn't happen often, so we checked in with member Carlos Santistevan, one of our favorite weirdos and a staunch supporter of indie, underground and original music in Santa Fe.
What's been up with High Mayhem lately?
We've been getting that a lot. I guess a lot of it's just kind of been life. Individually, we're all really productive and have a lot of stuff going on. Collectively, we haven't been working together a whole lot. This year, I had a new son get born, so that's been taking a lot of energy. We got this new studio space and we're still working on that and there's a lot of development, but just for me, within the last three or four months I've gotten things going again. I went out and played the High Zero festival in Baltimore. I played a set with one of the guys from Matmos; they bring in all these players from all over the country and throw you into four different ensembles and you've just gotta go up onstage and perform without ever having met. Some people I didn't even shake their hands until after we performed. I've been working on a lot of solo stuff. We're just getting back into it. This year the intention is to get the webcast series going, but trying to upgrade gear so we can do it as HD broadcasts. And trying to work on music, work on albums, trying to stay productive on the artistic tip. Leave the production stuff of shows to other people who are a little fresher. The majority of us have families and jobs and relationships and only so much energy. Am I gonna devote that energy to putting on other peoples' shows and investing money there, or continuing to work and developing my own art?
It's been awhile since this particular group of people has performed. Why now?
Right now the DIY scene in Santa Fe has got a nice pulse on it, but we haven't presented in quite some time. We just decided to do that. It looks like we're gonna have Ben Tempchin from Bodies doing some guitar for us. Ben's an incredible and diverse musician.
Will we hear old Stuff? New stuff? Some combo of the stuffs?
It's gonna be vibrational. The Late Severa Wires, we basically work with a sonic vocabulary, so it's like the pieces are directed to a certain extent, and there's also a lot of conducting going on between band members. Certain gestures signify for certain music to go into certain spaces. A lot of it is more about this vocabulary that … stems from the work of Butch Morris, the guy who invented a type of music called conduction, where someone conducts a band with no written music. We sonically take it to a different place, but there are certain things that pertain to all music. The music still has sustain, it still has pulses, it still has dynamics. If you work within these sorts of vocabularies, you can create structures that are very directed but still improvised. The band members can, at any time, conduct or change the music and take it to other places. But the sound we go for is as much about vibration as it is about sound. It's about tuning into a deeper vibration—the vibration of the earth, humanity, the universe. Everything is about vibration. If it's light, if it's sound, if it's DNA … we try to get to that level. We're using sound and creating, essentially, a vibrational womb where we can share experiences within. As much as it's about sound, it's about a sonic womb. We've had multiple experiences on the road and locally where if people can get into the space, they can have profound experiences. I've played in a lot of bands and I do a lot of composed music and improv, but there's nothing like the womb of sound that this particular approach to music and this particular assemblage of players is able to create.