Detroit label Flesh Wave has been one of my favorite d.i.y music peddlers as of late. Fuck Eyes, Fake Surfers, and Eroders have been getting lots of play in the Dear household. FW pushes all of my underground music buttons with its cool artwork and varied musical textures of everything from dirty lo-fi garage punk, synth-weirdness, to noisy experimental jams. I asked comic artist/illustrator, rock n’ roller, and sole proprietor of Flesh Wave, Mike Prezzato, a few questions, and you know what? He answered them…and here they are..
1. Where did the Flesh Wave concept come from?
Well the moniker had been bandied about for a while since about 2005 in different formats.
I did a couple issues of a zine by that name, which had some of my art, interviews with bands, and came with a cassette comp. which featured some local hardcore punk bands.
The name actually comes from a piece of Henry Rollins’ writing that I like.
2. How long have you been operating as a label?
FW found its legs in about 2009-2010 as my friend Ian Swanson and myself started recording and playing out as Terminal Girls. This led to us doing a bunch of side projects as well, which accumulated quickly, and I realized I should probably release them in some real form besides
I always loved cassettes and also realized they’re a little calmer on my wallet than vinyl..
We played a couple shows with Fake Surfers, a noisy garage punk duo, and I asked them to do a tape, which was the first release. CANE!, a poppy synth punk duo from Milan, Italy, was a band I really wanted to do something with so we put out the Cum In Your Heart full length.
Eroders, a garagey punk rock n’ roll act from Detroit, did a 6 song tape, and my pal Timmy Vulgar did his Center of Saturn tape of strange and silly demos.
Releases between Swanson and myself include my solo garage punk thing Fuck Eyes, Ian’s synthy weirdo joint Flat Black Animal, our noise punk band Sex Objex and the Side Effects compilation(featuring Radons/Annelids/Cool Graveyards), which features us dabbling in a variety of different sounds.
3. What do you do in the real world to maintain your rock n’ roll habit?
I’m a freelance artist(comic book/illustration stuff mostly) as well as hold down a “real job,” where I work at a pretty upscale banquet hall/mansion.
It’s a complete polar opposite, I know, but I dig duality.
4. Coming from Detroit with all of its rich musical history, how does Flesh Wave fit into “rock city”?
Oh I dont know..I dont really care to be honest. I have a drive to do my music and put out stuff I’m into. I’d probably still be putting out these tapes if I was the only person on the planet, not for some kind of ego trip, but because hell, I like making stuff..and hey, ya need something weird to do to pass the time in this whole life thing, right?
5. Speaking of the treacherous streets of Detroit, if you were a superhero what would your special powers be?
No way I’d be a super hero…I’d probably be a Morlock, like from the X-Men.
They were the original comic book punks, living in the sewer, wearing leather jackets, eye patches, mohawks, with switch blades AND fucked up powers to boot.
I’d like to have the ability to blow open people’s minds to vast unknown weirdnesses haha.
6. Do you have a following of slacker rebels with laser shades that come out to every show and terrorize the squares? What is the support/acceptance of the label?
I hope people dig what myself and the bands on the label are doing! If not, that’s fine too.
But I have had a lot of support from local record stores and most people around.
I’ve had a great response so far concerning mail order, a ton of foreign orders, cool reviews and write ups, and things like that, so that’s kinda cool and helps me to keep this up.
As far as shows go…man, growing up takes a toll on my show-going and bar hopping haha..I work a lot, and when not, I’m most likely doing label stuff or just taking it easy.
It’s a telepathic kinda relationship with the local scene right now, but it’s always back and forth depending on how much open time I have.
As for the active bands with releases on the label, Fake Surfers and Eroders are always keeping up on playing out a good amount, and Timmy as well with Human Eye/Organism.
Fuck Eyes has gone through two rotations of live members, and is now confined to just recording between myself and my buddy Ryan on drums.
7. The deaths head logo with badass laser shades creates a “Cronenberg-esque” dystopian vibe for me. What kind of feedback have you had for this imagery? Has it stirred any controversy?
No controversy, I think there’s things much more offensive in this world than re-purposing Nazi imagery into my stupid label, like Third Reich policies which have been integrated and excepted into society such as eugenic programs and water fluoridation.
(am I getting too serious? quick, let’s talk about pizza and babes!)
I’m into making collages, and I see it as the same sort of thing.
Live fast, die young meets momenti mori, or something..
Open a current issue of MRR and you’ll see 30 band names that include the suffix “SS”
(..it’s like the new “Dis-“..) Even if ya think that’s equally offensive, I think a deaths head skull with punk glasses is a bit more creative.
My joke explanation is that I’m “taking it back” from the Nazis…oh, and a jewish dude once told me he thought the logo was fucking awesome! so there’s that haha..
I second that emotion…
8. Running a D.I.Y label is a labor of love. I understand that you do all of the construction/assembly, art/design, and marketing. Do you ever consider going to a new format? CDs, vinyl, etc?
Yeah, eventually I’m gonna slow down on the cassettes, maybe get to 12 releases and then see what happens.
The thing with this label is that it’s been mostly demo-ish material, which is fine by me, and fits well with the cheap nature of cassettes, but not something I would particularly like to force releases out of, just for the sake of keeping up on it.
Most of this stuff has just made its way to the surface at the right time for me to release, and if I keep this up much longer, it’s not going to be as much fun, having to grasp at straws for things to put out, just to put something out.
CDs I won’t touch, but doing some 7″ singles or an occasional LP in the future under the same label name I could definitely be into.
9. There is a definite lo-fi, noisy and experimental quality to your own projects (Fuck Eyes, Terminal Girls, etc.) as well as the other bands that you have released tapes by. What are some the first memories/discoveries that influenced your current musical tastes?
The first cassette I bought was Aerosmith haha…but the first casssette I STOLE was Dead Kennedys “In God We Trust Inc”…makes sense right?
A lot of memories and influences I guess, but I do remember the Misfits blew my mind first time I heard that Collection 1 CD…that was the me that was into Stone Temple Pilots and whatever other bullshit at the time, so yeah, doors kept opening musically the same way.
I think I got into really listening to music kinda late…I went through the usual ‘90s kid grunge/bad pop punk thing, then you stick your head into underground music long enough and dig yourself deep into a sub-cultural weirdness that you can never crawl outta..,it’s pretty cool I gotta say, that all of this even exists. There’s probably an alternate reality version of me that is listening to Barenaked Ladies on the regular and that me is a total DICK.
10. What are the absolute “must have” albums that you couldn’t live without?
Oh man. I could go all day, but I’ll try to squeeze this into a top ten.
10. Geza X-You Goddamn Kids!:
Ever want to know who originally wrote the theme song to Sonic The Hedgehog? Here ya go! This is the weirdest thing you’ll ever hear.
Best song: I Hate Punks
Raw NYC proto punk rock n’ roll…A side is the best side.
Listen for the riff that Danzig ripped off of this…
Best song: Faster and Louder
8. Sonic Youth-Sister:
Ian had the cassette of this and we’d listen to it a ton until it got eaten by a vacuum cleaner. RIP.
Best song: Catholic Block
7. Mothers of Invention-Were Only In It For The Money:
This is the album both the Beatles and Stones wish they had put out!
Best song: Whats The Ugliest Part Your Body?
6. Billy Joel-Glass Houses:
My dad had this on cassette and I always loved it, great song writing.
Best song with broken glass fx: You May Be Right
5. Alien Sex Fiend-Dead and Buried 12‘’ single:
I loved NIN’s when I was younger and then I found this and it blew em away!
Best song: Attack!
4. Rudimentary Peni-Cacophony:
The soundtrack to your worst nightmares! gross/great!
Best song: Dream City
3. Lost Sounds-Memphis is Dead:
“Whoa!”-my reaction to first hearing this in 2002 or whatever. Their best album, amazing live.
Best song: Ship of Monsters
No no, wait…give it a chance, this is raw fucked up art punk, before they went super metal
(which I still dig most of..but this one is really where it’s at).
Best song: U Aint Shit
1. Samhain-November Coming Fire:
I love the atmosphere of this album, it reminds me of driving around in autumn jamming this, surrounded by pumpkins and falling leaves.
Replace this album’s so-so version of Halloween II with the ‘Fits version and it’s perfect.
Best song: Diablos ‘88
11. What are some of your current faves? Local or otherwise. What is getting heavy rotation for you right now?
Local: Protomartyr! They rule, best band in Detroit I think…Human Eye too of course. Growwing Pains’ new LP is rad…and more I can’t think of now, but there’s a lot of good stuff going on around here. Anything Gold Tapes, X Records and Urinal Cake puts out is top notch.
Non-local: I’ve been listening to a lot of Puerto Rico Flowers and Holograms…a ton of Sun Ra too but that’s not so current.
12. Say we met on the internet and have been hitting it off so I hitchhike to Detroit to meet you…What would a perfect date with Mike be like?
I’d cook you some real fancy pasta, we’d watch an Ingmar Bergman flick with a bottle of cheap wine and then we’d let the heat of the moment take us deep into the sensual night.
I’m a sensitive fucker.
Sounds nice Mike…
13. What does the future hold for FW? New releases, tours, etc?
A new Fuck Eyes 6 songer, a 6 band/12 song compilation cassette entitled Yes Future(hopefully out in January) and a full length tape from Deformities(awesome young Baltimore band!)
Sweet! Thanks Mike! Can’t wait to hear more. First check out Flesh Wave on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and Tumblr, then buy everything! You won’t be disappointed, unless you are always disappointed you spoiled little brats!
You can contact Mike for badass art, killer jams, or odd jobs at [email protected]