Tim Kinsella and Jenny Pulse have consummated their love on disc. The result is Good Fuck, an erotic exploration of experimental literary techniques and adventurous electronic beats.
There’s audible chemistry in Good Fuck’s sound; Kinsella’s extensive history in genre-pushing rock and roll (Joan of Arc, Cap’n Jazz) is strikingly complimented by Pulse’s fresh ear for minimalist electro sounds. The album’s eerie synth soundscapes and chanted vocals flow effortlessly from track to track. The music of Good Fuck melds the sensual with the cryptic, the erotic with the esoteric. Good Fuck reminds us that experimental music doesn’t necessarily need to be caustic or harsh, it can exist comfortably in the groove of a seductive electronic beat.
(Photo Credit: Evan Jenkins)
Salutations from Jacksonville, FL!
We—Good Fuck—write you from a haze of mold and all-purpose cleaner, currently on tour all over the Southeast opening for El Ten Eleven, a duo that we like more and more each day, both as humans and musicians. El Ten Eleven graciously invited Joan of Arc to play for their audience, and we were excited to do it; it’s all kinds of cities that we can’t play on our own cuz no one would be there. And it was to be the final tour supporting our latest record 1984. But after six months on the road, and a couple converging money snags (on top of the routine money-snag of keeping a modest operation such as ours afloat) Joan of Arc was forced to back out last minute. So, with the Good Fuck album out next month, we capitalized on the crisis and created an opportunity.
This flip is exactly the kind of lesson that Jenny and I have been learning from our audiobooks. You see, the two of us, on tour crammed into my backseat-less Honda Element with our bulk cans of High Brew and portable speaker box, have been doing an intense audiobook immersion. We are subjecting ourselves to an intense process of collaborative intentional mental reprogramming: bringing our most subtle habits to the surface for retraining, rewiring our synapses, awakening the dog within us, strategizing the war of art. I won’t name names, but suffice it to say that for hours each day we are weaving together what all the high powered CEOs know, and what all the gurus know, and what all the Oprah fans know.
And we’re sober—certainly unfamiliar territory. A duo tour has a real boot camp quality to it: so many small pieces to keep straight, including our primitive multimedia show, no one else to help load or drive or sell T-shirts. So getting sober happened out of necessity, but symbiotically it feeds into our audiobook seminar perfectly.
And to be clear: We—Good Fuck—are on tour as “Joan of Arc.” Half our set is old Joan of Arc songs played in the style of Good Fuck and the other half is unreleased Good Fuck songs. We never imagined this hybridity, but perseverance and flexibility are among our most beneficial talents. And it feels great to win over another band’s audience, in cities we wouldn’t otherwise play, like doing so in the immediate each night is an analogy for being a new band in general. No matter how long we’ve both been playing music, there’s this convincing that needs to happen to get people to accept some unfamiliar new thing.
So we repeat: resilience and adaptability are among our most beneficial talents. My booking agent since 1996 retired. My bandmates in Joan of Arc hit a wall. Upon hearing the rough mixes of the Good Fuck album, the label that I’d been trusting for years passed on it, after a year of telling me they were excited to release it. The label that ended up releasing it would not relent on trying to foist an outside producer on us whose approach we weren’t feeling. Good Fuck has been a sustained battle for our integrity each day, and that struggle inspires us and keeps us grounded.
Ultimately, Good Fuck is the means and ends of our collaborative conscious alignment. We live together and we’d jam sometimes, usually late at night after a couple drinks, never bothering to record it. And we’d keep various setups around the apartment and tweak them while making lunch or getting ready for work. The point being, we never tried very hard. We just talked about what our band would be like, defining its parameters. For months we talked and talked about it. We spent most nights DJing for each other or checking out shows, identifying and refining what we were drawn to, where we found surprising cracks or overlaps.
Then finally we packed all our gear into the car and drove 13 hours to The Millay Colony in upstate New York: an artist’s colony in The Berkshires, miles down a private road, next to 100,000 acres of national forest. And when we arrived, off-season and empty, we found it under four feet of snow. Our process was compressed into a single week in uninterrupted isolation, so we developed a working system to keep us moving and intuitive, trading tracks back and forth on a schedule. For the lyrics we agreed on 12 books we thought most relevant and came up with various systems to collapse and collage them into each other in different combinations. And packing up after the end of the week, we were stunned by the results.
Of course there were snags, technological and psychological. And of course we threw a good amount away. But what was left was not the result of trying to write songs, but the effortless evidence of what emerged when we got clear in our intentions and then just let it out. In deep enough seclusion together, we’d synced our subconsciouses to trust our shared gut.
Take “Jenny Dreams of Pies,” for example. Jenny is very excited about baking pies and she’s very excited about her dreams, and this song came from a lucky convergence of the two. Simple. But we were as surprised as anyone in the end to see that we had written an anthem to our dogged optimism—Plan A ain’t working, Plan B is the new Plan A; New Plan A ain’t working, Old Plan C is the new Plan A; and on and on for a lifetime. It’s structured à la the classic Grease-style duet that we prefer on many of our songs, and it’s philosophically structured like Plato’s Republic with some nagging annoyer chiming in counterpoints.
“Jenny Dreams of Pies” is a model for our creative processes; our creative processes are a model for our ways of being a band; our ways of being a band are a model for our shared life. And we make each other laugh a lot. And we never stop working.
(Photo Credit: Evan Jenkins)