Kirke Passaro: The Value Of Honesty

Written on

May 26, 2012

If you’ve been to a lot of shows or traveled around enough, there are certain faces that you will recognize. The people that are always around, instrumental somehow to that particular scene, but for some reason haven’t gained underground godhood status. Most, you would find ,are ok with that, as is this particular interview’s subject, Kirk Passaro, who gets his hands into just about a bit of everything musically. Kirk was instantly drawn to the purpose of this webzine and the desire to support the other’s projects was mutual. We became quick friends and I came to the conclusion that only an interview would do his work justice. Since this interview has been conducted, Mark, the front-man of Sluck, has passed away and I have moved several times in a month’s time-span which have both delayed, in their own way, the public release of this interview. That aside, this piece is unlike any interview that I’ve ever conducted before. I tend to say that I enjoy a more free flowing and conversational style, but I have always maintained a personal distance allowing for my subject to be the spotlight. This time, it was a true conversation with honest participation from both sides. We fed off of each other and you will learn as much about me as you will Kirke. Because of that, the formatting is a bit different for this one and it has a somewhat abrupt end since the conversation strayed dramatically at that point. As always, I hope you enjoy the read and are able to take something useful from it with you.

Kirke is currently working on a concept solo album that will have some guest strings and other instruments at interludes. It is a personal piece that he is calling, “All that is Love shall pass”. Like most concept albums, it will play in a sequence of different styles and emotion driven drone, heaviness, acoustic, and noise oriented music.

[Text in quote boxes is Kirke's side of the conversation.]

Hello. Taking a break, let’s talk.

Interview or something to rest the mind?

Resting the mind is easier said then done with me, my mind runs faster then my hand. [Laughter]

[Laughter] I understand. What slows it down a fraction? I assume music would be it.

Music keeps me sane and takes my undivided attention more so then anyone or thing I have ever experienced in my life. What slows yours down?

Music and the silence of the world without humanity surrounding me. What about it captivates you so much?

Good answer.

Thanks. I’ve been wanting to disappear for awhile into seclusion.

When people talk of having a calling or knowing what they have always wanted since they were a child, I was that kid. My entire life has been surrounded by music from family musicians and all of them always having music playing at all times around the house in all styles and forms, just kind of formed me.

The further away from people I am, the more I enjoy myself.

It’s interesting though, feeling more at peace away from people but being so immersed in music which is a direct reflection of humanity in many ways. Aside from music molding you as a person from a young age, how do you tend to view that relationship between people and music?

In all forms of writing, it all starts with yourself. In knowing that and the dedication put into the creativity and time, you just start learning a little more each day that you really don’t need anyone else. With that in my mind and only doing every piece of art I do, I do for me and don’t care what others think because I do it for me. I make art for the passion that is within and not seen through others. So why get wrapped up into human emotions when it’s only your own you understand.

Well said.

Thank you. What started your seclusion?

The realization that people aren’t truly interested in my thoughts either because they’re self-absorbed or they find it conflicts too much with their own world view. Or it is too odd for them. Also that people aren’t interested in hearing the truth. I tend to like to think a lot and reflect too. Being in my mind without useless chatter around me is nice.

Truth hurts they say, but if it’s true why get mad. I get more done without others around too.

Because they would rather believe something that doesn’t require too much thought. They don’t like things that don’t have an easy answer. They don’t like having their minds challenged or their world view.

My Grandfather once told when I was a child that one should not speak unless one has a question or an answer. Kinda made sense to me in life.

Yeah. That’s sound advice.

If only seduction was ever that case. [Laughter]

Bad joke.

Ha! Seduction, the mother of all exceptions I find.

Yeah, a euphoric energy takes over a new emotion and all is good until it’s a new day.

Yea and you wonder what the hell went down the other day. By the way, I am the queen of successfully executing bad jokes.

That’s a good quality to have in life.

It sure makes it fun. What instrument were you drawn to the most? If none, which did you decide to pick up first?

When I was 5, my pops got me a Muppets drum set that had paper heads, it was cheap and I loved to beat the shit out of it like I knew what I was doing. Then the old man said he watched me one day trying to play along to a song on the stereo and kind of getting it, so he went out and bought me a drum set and I’ve played drums ever since. Also when my moms was prego with me, she went to a Buddy Rich concert and said I kicked like hell the whole time. True story, have mom on video telling the story.

[Laughter] That’s awesome! Drums are my second favorite instrument next to bass.

You play any instruments?

Bass. 4-string. I’m not that good at it. Other things take up my time, but I enjoy it.

4-string is the only bass I enjoy and enjoy playing whether it be stand up or, my favorite, the 62 fender jazz. It’s all about the back bone.

Yeah. The sound and feel just captivated me from a young age. I don’t know why. It’s like the heart-beat of the world.

The bottom end sound wave that comes out of the bass and drums that tickles your stomach and tells you to brake glass is orgasmic. Like hearing Black Sabbath for the first time and getting a boner.

Shit yeah. Exactly right. That right there was poetic.

That is truth. Low end frequencies just give me a chill up the spine and a mind at peace.

Yeah. It eases everything. So you started joining or creating bands from a young age then? What kind of music did your first band play?

Besides playing in jazz band in school from 3rd grade on, I didn’t start a band until I was like 12yrs old and most of the other guys were always a lot older then me. The first kind of music I ever played at that age was like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, punk rock stuff. Then at 14, I had a second coming in music and that was Melvins. Dale Crover ruined my technique for life after hearing “Bullhead” for the first time. After that it was lower and slower.

Saint Vitus‘s “Born Too Late” is echoing at the back of my head after reading the last part.

My favorite Vitus album..nice.

It damn sure is a great one. It’s been awhile since I’ve given them a thorough listen. My favorite song from them though is “Burial At Sea”.

Great song. Like everything Wino has ever done. Underestimated.

For the most part, but I think that he has an occult following. Which he deserves.

Yeah, but he’s been at it for 35 yrs plus now and has never seen the respect he deserves. His drop in the bucket in the music world will live forever.

True. Then again, been noticing that those that really do contribute a lot are hardly respected in anything (not only music). Twisted way of the world.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Wino a few times and he’s wise and humble.

Sounds like an amazing human to be around.

Originators will always be second best.

Yeah, unfortunately. What kind of bands do you play in now? You have more than one that you’re involved in?

Yeah. For the past 10 yrs now I have given up on the one true brotherhood of a band. When you’re young you get a taste of it because you have nothing to lose. Some make it to the maturity level and keep the machine running, but very few these days. So as a nomadic no stings attached life style I live, I’ve just decided to jam with as many people as possible. Out of that came Sluck, Skinny Buddha, Marro, and many others I help out live or record with them.

Sluck is a band that has been together since 2002 and is a gathering of 4 good friends with the love of what is sick in this world and expressing it best when releasing that hatred through music. Drums, bass, keys, voice and noise create the sound of the under belly that is life. Influences are only the angst that each person holds inside and only releases in this circle to keep us from jail, struggle, or death. A soundtrack to reality, a dirty Swans meets Tribes of Neurot, that has been jizzed out by Merzbow.

A really grimy creation. Are tracks up anywhere to listen to or is it just a live band?

We have a large catalog of recordings that can now be heard at myspace. We put out everything we ever did on our own due to everyone in the band being involved in other projects or me moving every other year. It’s primarily an improv band.

Do you tend to enjoy work with Sluck more than the others you’ve mentioned?

Yes and No. Like life itself not everyone is on your time, that makes it hard for Sluck to pursue a full time nature. As far as the players in Sluck and the ability to write together and have that, we are all veterans and know what were doing as a team, it’s a kind magic.

All the pieces fit where they’re supposed to.

Exactly..without talk.

You mentioned living a nomadic life. What compels you to relocate more often than most would?

My whole life my family traveled heavily and moved us dramatically, so I’ve never been close to many people in my life from a young age. I’ve never had the problem of just picking up and going, may it be for work, music, or needing a change of pace.

We are similar in that respect.

Not too many with that understanding.

Yeah. It’s the fact that you don’t feel tied down to any piece of land or people in general.

No.

Speaking personally that is.

All I need is a pair of boots, jeans, clean shirt, and my music and I’m ready to go. I live most my days like it’s my last. Make the best of the day I have and never think ahead. Just hope I awake the next day.

Suffice it to say then, you don’t have any real long term goals.

I already know what I am going to do with the rest of my life, make art and if I grow old, buy a fucking bar. I know music and the food and beverage industry. Stick with what you know.

Ah! A bar!

As long as booze is legal, people will drink. Just like a mortician. People die everyday.

True. Even when it wasn’t legal, people still drank. That reminds me oddly enough about your stand-up performances that you talk about now and then. You said that you’ve been doing it for 20 years or so, right? How did you get started doing that?

I started doing poetry and spoken word when I was like 15 at coffee houses and writers’ meetings to share my thoughts with some like-minded people..so I thought. After seeing the hype and the square side of that little world, my drinking increased with disgust over those assholes and my readings became drunken rambles that others either enjoyed due to the honesty or hated the slander. So then I was talked into trying stand-up and it just felt easier to make’em laugh and not give a shit rather than make’em understand.

Yet, I did stop poetry reading and using my true feelings in this new setting.

First part reminded me a lot of Bill Hick’s story. He went through a period like that with his stand-up.

When your real meaning of life is being mistreated, you take it back and don’t feel the need to share.

Yes, that’s exactly right. That’s why I didn’t share my poetry for a long time as well. Since you said you’ve left doing poetry and spoken word, what kind of material do you tend to gravitate toward with your stand-up?

My everyday life and reality is all I ever talk about. Sex, drugs, drink, stupidity, racism, common sense. Tell them what they should already know and laugh at them.

How well does that go over with the crowds you find yourself speaking to?

In the south, I already have two strikes against me. I’m a yank and I grew up in San Francisco, my open-mindedness scares them for the most part, so it’s shock value for them. Other places I’ve done it is from out west to up north, I get quicker thinkers. Sounds bad but true, so the response depends on the people.

Well then, seems like I won’t be fairing too well in the south.

The south is full of good people. It’s just like what America considers the norm, but the south’s norm has a lot more ignorance to it. Hanging onto the past with the bible belt holding it up.

Yeah, I’ve noticed that. Reminds me of the country side in Egypt. Same shit, different language, religion and landscape.

The whole world is the same shit with different characters.


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Founder and Editor. Conquering one genre at a time while blurring the lines. Words are my art and the world my canvas.