Interview: Lightning Bolt


Drummer Brian Chippendale speaks via telephone from a friend’s house — since he’s currently homeless. For someone just evicted, he’s surprisingly upbeat. His voice has an air of affable bemusement, whether he’s talking about costume design, comic books or the eviction that saw him and others kicked out of a warehouse they called home.

“We had some surprise visits from building inspectors,” he says, chuckling, “and the whole area was condemned.”

He and many others from Rhode Island School of Design began migrating to abandoned industrial zones in 1995, creating an underground community complete with galleries and enough stages for several bands to play simultaneously. Experimental noise projects such as Black Dice emerged from one such community, dubbed Fort Thunder, before it was demolished. Helping out in the creation of these spaces, Chippendale has lived and performed in many of them.

While the denizens of these communities lack money and love brain-boiling volume, there’s little else that characterizes them — unless you count “a lot of knitting,” says Chippendale. Most warehouse residents were design majors, he explains, so design and music merged: The band Forcefield performed at New York’s Whitney Museum in cartoonish animal outfits; Lightning Bolt’s bassist, Brian Gibson, started a costume-clad blues band called Barkley’s Barnyard Critters; and there was a puppet rap band called Wak Attack.

Read the full interview at The Japan Times Online.

Lightning Bolt emerge from tightly knit scene | The Japan Times Online

About Jason Andrew Jenkins

In 1997, Jason left his home near Atlanta for a year abroad. He liked it so much that he never went back. After three years in Taiwan and 13 years in Japan, he and his wife quit their desk jobs in Tokyo, pulled their kids out of local schools and traveled as a family for six years, living in Malaysia, Spain, and Mexico along the way. They returned to Japan — Osaka this time — in the summer of 2019. Jason loves Google Maps, carry-on luggage, and most dishes registering on the Scoville scale.
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