These are troubled times. Troubled enough, that you don’t need us to talk about it. But if there was ever a time to make a break, or to find a way out, it is now. That is why we, John Wilkes Booze, are here with five stories of honest life scorching Soul, a starter plan if you will, that should set the fire in your feet to get up and move in all directions.
First off, John Wilkes Booze are six spirit fuelled, R&B players from South Central Indiana -- Bloomington to be exact. And by rhythm and blues, we are talking about Hoosier R&B: warbly and frantic falsetto vocals backed by electric bass, organ, drums, and dual guitars with the frequent ecstatic spurts of trumpet, saxophone and electronics. We come from the very soil that birthed JJ Johnson, MX-80 Sound, Phil Niblock, Dancing Cigarettes, and the Gizmos. Add it up, and we’re there. As obsessive collectors of the raw and esoteric, we’ve taken our flotsam of films, books, and vinyl collections and transfused them into a sound not far from the orbits of our garage or El Saturn, nor from intellectual dissections and analysis of these modern times.
In order to reach the people we created a list of 200 Pillars of Soul, folks who have transcended their lives in various ways to make the world a better place for us. We then picked five. With the spiritual guidance of producer Mahan Kalpa Singh (Paul Mahern of the Indianapolis’ legendary Zero Boys) we researched, wrote, recorded, and released the “Five Pillars of Soul,” originally a series of five, 300 edition CD EPs (now out of print) during 2002. The EPs brought to light some of the brightest people to walk this planet: filmmaker, writer and Brer Soul #1, Melvin van Peebles; heiress turned gun-totting Symbionese Liberation Army revolutionary, Tania (aka Patty) Hearst; free jazz pioneer Albert Ayler; mystic folk singer and leader of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Marc Bolan; and peace activist, Fluxus member, and savior of rock ‘n’ roll, Yoko Ono.
These recordings are ethnographies of each individual: their life, art, failures, creations and at times, death. Combined, these five can show us a better way of life for all.We’ve begun an organized history of Soul for others to contemplate, add to, and use how they see fit. The songs are mixed with field recordings made in the Pillar's homes, burial grounds and spiritual haunts.