Biography

Trevor Dunn-bass
Mary Halvorson-guitar
Ches Smith-drums

I was born in 1968 in a small Northern California logging town not far, in spirit anyway, from David Lynchs Twin Peaks. For some reason, at the age of 13, I started playing electric bass. I had some good teachers who turned me onto Miles Davis, Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock, plus my mom had some Mingus and Ahmad Jamal records lying around. At the same time I was listening to what a lot of teenagers were listening to in the 80s: Punk and metal--Slayer, DRI, Venom, the Swans, etc. Then I went to a small university & started studying contrabass and classical music. I really got into the 20th century masters: Webern, Messiaen, Ligeti, etc.

My 1st bass teacher hooked me up with some other kids & within months of my 1st lesson I was already in two bands. My 1st professional gig was at age 17, and around that time I formed a band with some high school friends. We called it "Mr. Bungle". There was a point when I was involved simultaneously with this avant-rock band, the university orchestra & big band, a 50s rock bar band (my job), and a couple of local jazz quartets.

I moved to San Francisco in 1992 & Mr. Bungle signed to Warner Bros. When we weren’t touring I was meeting people like Ben Goldberg, John Schott, and Graham Connah & playing a lot of creative music night after night. Around that time I had the idea to form my own "jazz" trio that I would approach "compositionally" but would also incorporate elements of "rock" music, like power chords. In 1998 a Dutch label called Buzz Records released my 1st trio recording "Debutantes & Centipedes".

In 2000 I moved to Brooklyn, NY feeling a little complacent in SF. Up to this point in time I’ve played on over 40 recordings including several with John Zorn, Mike Patton’s metal group Fantômas and other "jazz" groups. Recently I’ve been playing with Marc Ribot, Zorns Electric Masada, David Krakauer’s Klezmer Madness, Hilmar Jennson, Jenny Schienman, and a duet with harpist Shelley Burgon.

As a sideman it’s difficult to find the time for ones own projects. Recently I made the time & found 2 young musicians to help me play on the new trio-convulsant CD: Ches Smith plays percussion in contemporary classical concerts & drums in a rock band called Theory of Ruin. Mary Halvorson, guitarist from Boston, leads several of her own groups & has played with Anthony Braxton and Joe Morris.

People ask me what kind of music it is and I never know what to say. There is counterpoint; there are power chords & atonal melodies. Sometimes it swings; sometimes it tries hard not to swing. There are complicated written passages & sections of free improvisation. It’s not fusion but it does combine disparate styles & yet I like to think of forms developing organically as opposed to a cut-and-paste technique.

Whether I’m listening to Throbbing Gristle or Britney Spears I absorb what comes my way. It’s all music to me, and why shouldn’t it be? I consider myself rootless because I accept all. I have no ties & nowhere to go. And the music I write is a result of that.

Releases

Cover for Sister Phantom Owl Fish
Sister Phantom Owl Fish

External Sites