Ycxi'rewatchingMTV.acommercialforMCIcomes on and CRASH! tt's the classic "1 969," from one of the best bands ever, The Stooges, and the guitar sounds just as hot, just as dangerous, just as perfect in 1994 as itdid 25years ago. Oryou piek up Rolling Stone (or any other hipster music magazine) and some Seattle grunge band is whining about angst, life, the poetry of rock, and how Stooges' guitar god Ron Asheton was theforce that saved theirsoul.Orjust look atyour record collect on and the light bulb goes on - The Stooges and MCöleadsto The New Dolls and The Ramones leadsto The Sex Pistols, leads to any metal guitar band (piek one) to Nirvana and Pearl Jam (even Guns and Roses) on one level, and Wig and Big Chief on the local scène. Ann Arborite Ron Asheton iswas one of the true origináis of the rock 'n'roll guitar. Co-writerof twoof the best tunes of all time - "No Fun" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog" from hisdayswith kjgy Pop and The Stooges, he's still kickin' it out from his home on Ann Arbor's west side. But today, the energy, the fire, and TERROR of being a unlque American artist takes two different but related forms- film, as well as rock'n'roll. Therock'n'roilishisband DarkCamival. Fronted by artistsinger Niágara and featuring Asheton on killer guitar, the band is scary, mystical, and sounds like the soundtrack to a night in heil, or maybe a band that Edgar Alian Poe would have formed f he were alive today. In other words, more freshly original stuff that stretches the boundaries of rock'n'roll. Asheton iswatchingavideoof clips of his soon-tobe-released movie "Mosquito," and talking about Dark Camival's recent trip to New York City. "We played the Knitting Factory and MaxweU's and it was fantastic. Both places were packed with everyone from 1 8-yearold punks to 60-year-old Stooges fans. I must have signed a hundred autographs!" The trip was Asheton 's first NYC gig in 1 2 years and a weekend piek in both The New York Times and Village Voice. Record producer Don Fleming (Screaming Trees, AliceCooper.etc.) wason hand aboutaGeffen Recordsfunded Dark Carnival release on Caroline Records. Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth was at both shows to pay his musical respects. And the night was another taste of the real thing for Motor City-starved Big Apple music lovers in general. With record releases on Frenen, Australian, and even American independent labels, and a reputation that grows by the year, how come Dark Carnival rarely plays their hometown? Two words - no respect, from local club owners. "The last time we played the Blind Pig we were treated like dog shit. And that 's really the only place in town that suits us. The door person dropped the agreed-to cover charge, and though the place was packed we made very little money. Who needs that?" says Asheton. "l'd rather spend my time making films than beating my head against the wall in local clubs." On the televisión screen are scènes from Asheton 's new movie. "Mosquito," in contrast to local rock'n'roll, is local cinema art. Directed by Gary Jones and filmed in southeastem Michigan, Asheton plays acigar-smoking, wise-cracking forest ranger who helps fight off a nuclear invasión of giant killer insects. J udging from the clips it 's funny as heil and looks like a million dollars in spite of its budget ofathird of that. The actorwhoplayed Leatherface in "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" also stars, and with Asheton 's comic presence, "Mosquito" isahoot While still one of the great guitarisfs, Asheton's film resumé slowly has increased over the past few years. "Mosquito" s actually his eighth movie. "The Carrier" (ed. note - it's showing this month at the State Theater, see page 15), "Helmaster," "Kil The Lawyers," and "Legionsof the Night" (anothersoonto-be-released flick) all feature Ron Asheton in what has become histrademark role - acharacterthat has dark stuff bubbling under the surface while on the surface it's a smart-ass, carefully-controlled, comic book film presence. "Acting is just as important to me as writing a song like 'No Fun.' I love Dark Camival, and playing the guitar and it's wonderful having someone come up to you and teil you how you saved their soul. But film and acting are the center of Ron Asheton as an artist in the 1 990s. I want to be involved in films just as good as The Stooges and Dark Camival were and are as rock'n'roll bands." And the Ann Arbor wave of record company signings ala Big Chief and Wig? 'Tve known Preston of Wig foryears, from his days in The State. I wish him well, but the last time I saw him, he was dríving a cab and picked me up. And Barry and the Big Chief guys used to come to my house all the time when they had theirmagazine(Motorbooty). It'scoolthatboth bands teil me how much they love The Stooges and my guitar. I wish 'ern well!" Ron Asheton pops the "Mosquito" video from the VCR and mentions his next sd-fi flick, "Men in Black," he's working on, this time as a producer. From rock'n'roll legend to films that rock and roll. An American original in more waysthan one, Ron Asheton is making Ann Arbor less of a "nowhere" every day. That'sourliving history lesson for this month. Don't forget to mail your music tapes, CDs, fílm scripts and whateverelse to AGENDA, The View From Nowhere, 220 S. Main, Ann Arbor, Mi 48104.
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