They say you only get 15 minutes of fame. Then your time is up and it's back to the nonchalance of everyday life. But here's a man, one Chris Constantino, who is out to get at least 15 minutes more. In between the hellfire quick releases by his new project JackieOnAssid - an EP, upcoming full length, 4 music videos - somehow Chris found the time to sit down with us here at Legends and expound on what it's like to try it all over again, among other things.
Ok, let's start off real simple. All members of JackieOnAssid stand up and tell us your names and duties.
JackieOnAssid is essentially me with a floating line up. Mike Varjak (ex-Sisters of Mercy) played guitar on most of the tracks, and is currently working on his solo project. Kevin C.U. will be playing the guitar in the next set of gigs. I will be playing bass guitar and singing and Daniel Strittmatter will be on the drums.
We have members from well known acts coming together to form a new outfit. Chris, you had toured as bass player with a rather popular new wave act at one point. You claim you were tired of having so much fun what exactly does that mean?
Well basically I was a little confused and quite young and naive at the time. In a sense, I didn't really quite grasp that I had been really lucky in my musical career up to that point. I expected to be successful, and that it would be easy. You know, I left school, started playing professionally, moved to London, slept in a van, got a band together, got a record deal with RCA records within 3 months then left THAT to join [the act you mentioned]. You know what I am saying? I didn't really have to struggle.
I was a spoiled brat who was getting all the things I ever wanted and expected since the age of 13 years old. I had just overdosed on the rock'n' roll dream and thought I was sick of it. We were supposed to be touring Japan next and I just didn't want to go. I missed the shitty English pubs and the barmaids from hell and the currys. I was potentially risking myself to sexually transmitted diseases, getting harassed and pawed by the fans, staying in flash hotels, thinking about making money, dealing with roadies, tour managers, pd's, itineraries, sound checks, and the other tour BS. At the same time, I was also getting a band together with Danny Kustowe, the guitarist from The Tom Robinson Band and Bob, the drummer with Adam. At that time we had Miles Copeland managing us. However, Danny got ill and we had to abort the project.
For the next decade and a half you've tried out a few bands. But in addition to that you did a short stint at acting - to discover you were bad at it. Tell us how you figured you were bad at it - I'm feeling there's a catchy story in here somewhere?
I did a job primarily for the money. I felt I did a really horrid job and it was so bad...so bad...that finished me off!!
Up until then I had landed a load of parts in films and TV stuff, including a few lead roles which paid well. I got away with it even as bad as I was. I just hated being around the asskissers who made me feel very ill and ill at ease. I know I got the parts because of the "look" that was coupled with cocky confidence. Inside, I knew I was doing a crappy job and that is why I quit. I have done theatre work on stage as well, but the irony is that despite having played in front of over a 100,000 people at gigs and all that, I nearly shit my pants having to stand in front of an audience of about 200. I remember the first night before showtime, I was sitting out in the bar as the punters and the director of the play came up and asked me "what the fuck I was doing?" I said I was "having a beer or 2 before the play started." She went apeshit, especially when I came out in the intermission again. Actually that was the best fun I had as an actor. Sort of wound up wrecking the nerves of the arty farty theatre directors.
Also, when I first started off I had a schizophrenic agent who has since been exposed in the papers..(not by me). She used to tell me that I had parts in films that never existed and gave me forged contracts and cheques. Her downfall came when she screwed over well known clients eventually.
One time, the agent got me a part in a film called Personal Services. I had filmed for a week, and for the premier opening, I invited my mate Hazel O'Connor. We watched the film and I wasn't in it! Hazel was so polite she didn't even say anything.
Afterwards, we went to the premier party and the producer came up to me and had a go at me. Apparently I wasn't a member of equity and that had put them into some trouble with that union so they had to cut my part. Basically, the agent had lied to the film company when I went to the audition and had told them that I was a member of equity. So anyway, I could go on, but it is old news and a new life and career beckons.
Now I understand you also have a previous Sisters of Mercy player with you in JackieOnAssid. Why the split from that group, who just came off a successful US tour somewhat recently (which I had the pleasure to see), to form JackieOnAssid?
I had JackieOnAssid going for a while. Since Mike and I were mates, we used to get together and vibe ideas. He just ended up playing on the stuff but I don't know why Mike quit the Sisters, or what happened.
Suddenly after 15 years of near silence, occasional band tours and other things, you decide to go with JackieOnAssid. The next thing you know you kick out your EP Zip Me Up, three videos for Meditation Man, Company Car and Zip Me Up, a tour comes next and now an upcoming full length release. Why so many things at once?
I spent a lot of time drinking, taking drugs and reading books and getting into trouble. I know it sounds like a typical VH1 story, but it happens. When I quit that stuff, I started getting a lot more done, hence the energy and time to accomplish my newfound goals.
The videos alone - three full ones off of your first EP! Most bands hit their third video with their third full length - what made you decide to invest in music videos for nearly half of your debut EP?
My mate Paul Hills is a film director (Boston Kickout). I met him when he was a producer on a film I was in called Play Dead (not too hard for me at that point in time). Danny Cannon was the director and it was his first film. Paul and I remained friends and I was in some of Paul's early works as a film director. As far as the vids go, we thought "why not?" Armed with a super 8 camera, some film and some mates at MTV who edited the first few which cost very little we went ahead and did it. We have made more videos and we have 4 that are finished. I love working with Paul as we just get together with some character developments and see what happens. It is no big deal, but I must say I am really proud of the vids so far. We want to make promos for all the tracks on Zip Me Up and release a CD ROM of all the vids eventually.
I hear the making of the Company Car video was hazardous to your health. And indeed some of those people in your trucking shots looked highly irritated at the whole idea. What happened out there in London?
As I said ,with Paul we just get together with a load of nutters, some film and a super 8 camera to see what happens. We filmed Company Car in the city of London the day after Princess Diana died and we had a few flash lights. Because the general public was very outraged at the role the press and media had apparently played in her death they were particularly hostile! Paul was shouting at these city types "YOU'VE GOT NO IDEA"...invading bars and shooting...guerrilla style literally shoving the camera in the punters' faces drunken city workers looking for a fight girls thinking they were gonna be in "Eastenders" and be famous and the Jackie gang taking a little "refreshment" break all caught on the police cameras. On the way home in a taxi a police car pulled up and we wound down the window and they asked us if we had had a good time said they had been watching us the whole time. Well we blinked a bleary innocent blink and they drove off. Next morning at 5 am Paul and I walked through the city and that's when you get the great shots of the androids walking to work across London bridge...9 to 5 society. Fuck me when I saw those rushes the endless depressed faces of mindless drudgery slaves to the system. I am not putting them down or anything, that is their choice. It is just not for me, that's all. Anyway, a few hours later we are back at the flat and Mickey Simmons turns up and smashes my favourite clock up. We went up to MTV and edited the video and that is that.....I love that video. And the music is LO-FI alright...my drum machine, my trusty bass and 2 guitar parts and a few vocals that's it. And 3 chords...
Zip Me Up is now the favorite song of my three year old and, indeed, she's singing "Weak weak weak!" fairly often now. But one question - what made you decide to use stop time photography methods for this video?
It was Paul's idea, so I asked him to explain:
"If 24 fps most approximates real life, 48 fps slows it down 100%, 12 fps speeds it up 100%...
If you take one frame but hold it for a second, lets say you pin point that moment by a factor of 24, allowing us to focus on that moment for an extended period of time. This teasing extension of time also makes us consider this selected moment more avidly especially concerning it's ultimate meaning.
By utilizing a combination of shots that are fleeting and others that are sustained you create a style of editing which less approximates poetry and closer approximates musicality. This variance in the length of the cuts in Zip Me Up is also more jazzlike, allowing us to interact with the music, some times bouncing off it, sometimes being right on the beat, sometimes simmering in the backbeat.
The laws of persistence of vision and the human need to blink makes the quick cut nature - some shots being on screen for just 3 frames - makes the video incredibly facetlike, making each viewing a fecund experience.
By sculpturing in this form of suspended time, sometimes actually allowing images to move like in a picturebook, sometimes being on the beat, sometimes ahead of it, sometimes behind it, the video also celebrates the medium of film and it's connection to music."
I am glad that your 3 year old appreciates it...she has great taste. It is my favourite too and my mums
Hollywood Bedsit - anonymously singing about a personal stalker from California. How'd that come about and is she as psycho as mine?
Oddly enough the first anonymous letter I received was while shooting Play Dead which Paul was producing in 1988. It was a letter that was designed to be an official one from a clinic telling me that I had AIDS. Immediately after that, some loony messages kept coming on my answering machine from some American girl laughing/screaming and crying, things like, "You fucked all those girls, you evil bastard, your cock stinks, I am cumming, etc." You know, the typical sort of stalker stuff. Anyway, then letters with voodoo stuff and curses started to arrive. A noose, blood soaked and shit soiled paper, scrawled messages such as, "you are going to die, betrayals are punishable, etc.," with references to gypsy curses. This went on for 12 years or so and I started to become paranoid that it was my friends, my mum, my dad, etc. Is yours as psycho as that?
[Well, mine just seem to wanna get laid you can keep yours. -Pan-]
Wanna trade stalkers for a month or so? I'm getting too used to the patterns of mine. ;)
Sure you find out who mine is and you can have her.
You cover Andy Warhol on Zip Me Up. Why the choice of such an obscure song?
It is not a cover. You are thinking of the Bowie tune I presume? That is a great tune though I haven't heard it for ages. This Andy Warhol is about the vacant lives of the wannabe stars and the hanger on lackey's who have no more than 6 minutes left to their 15 minute claim to fame.
Lately the general consensus has been that the gothic/industrial and synthpop scene(s) are heading back underground, at least in the states. Have you noticed this trend of going back underground in the UK and how is it manifesting if so?
I have never considered myself to be a Goth, so I wouldn't have a clue, but certainly it is much less visible as a scene these days. Or maybe hanging around bus stops just doesn't do it any more.
Some believe that this will be a good thing because of the availability of tickets and limited print items to "true fans," others say it will stifle labels and commerce within the genre. If the trend is there in the UK as well, do you feel it will better or worsen the current state of things in the scene and, specifically, for JackieOnAssid?
Over here we are not specifically considered to be a Goth/industrial or any other category band - for better or for worse. What I would say, however, is that outside of the dance scene which seems to still be innovating, UK chart music in general is really sad right now.
The Internet and entities such as MP3.com and Riffage.com have seemed to be a boon for independent and near-independent artists today. The promotions available with the Web are amazing. Do you take advantage of this or do you still tend to enjoy paper-based or more conventional forms of promotion?
We started out doing a lot of our promotion on the web. The brilliant thing about it is that you are reaching a potential audience of millions for a fraction of the cost of conventional promotion. The Internet is great for independent artists as you can maintain control over your marketing, however paper-based and conventional promotion are still regarded as more prestigious by the industry, I think. These days we use both.
How's your experience with starting JackieOnAssid's releases with a DAM CD from MP3.com? Are you finding utilizing MP3.com as a releaser of Zip Me Up is working out well? Has it been a good way for you to begin and increase your fan base prior to the release of your upcoming fan base?
It's been very useful for us to get DAM CDs to people in the US quickly and cheaply and as a referral site for business contacts. As far as building a fan base from MP3 is concerned - it's still early days. In fact MP3 are currently giving us a little push by releasing the video Company Car on 250,000 promo CDs. You can order your free CD from http://www.mp3.com/freecd/.
Mike Ventarola from Hidden Sanctuary has also been really supportive.
What's the best way for stalkers [cough] fans to get in touch with JackieOnAssid? Is there a preferred method? Self addressed stamped envelope, e-mail, website, etc
PO BOX LB 751