Martin Bisi has a storied career as a producer and performer. Some of his noteworthy collaborations are with Brian Eno, Sonic Youth, and Herbie Hancock to name a few. He’s coming to town and was cool enough to participate in this edition of First/Last.
The first album you ever bought?
The first 2 albums I owned were bought for me by my mom, around 1969. They were Grateful Dead – Anthem Of The Sun; and John McLaughlin – Extrapolation. The Dead one I actually hung on to and listened to repeatedly for a few years. It struck me as totally weird and epic. McLaughlin was way too proggy for me at that age.
As far as me buying my own? It was likely when I was around 12, and was probably in a shopping spree of Hendrix, Zappa, and Rolling Stones. The proto-punk of the late 60’s didn’t reach my ears till I was exposed to actual punk and New Wave in the late 70’s. I thought things could start in a void and then someone suggested I check out The Stooges, like after I’d heard Branca.
Your last album bought ?
Aaaah, painful to answer. I’m one of what I’d estimate is 20% of people in music -musicians, engineers, producers- who end up not actively listening to music anymore in their private time. I work on or play music nearly every day of my life, even if it’s just noodling on my guitar, so I just don’t listen to albums. I like knowing what’s new out there, but I don’t listen a great deal of any one individual artist. I hear stuff at people’s houses, in hipster cafes, and I ask people to play me new stuff they’re excited about for reference, usually while we’re working in the recording studio. So the last album I bought was Bob Dylan’s Time Out Of Mind. I picked it up in ’02 ..yikes.
Favorite album of all time?
A contender would be Wee Tam by The Incredible String Band. Runner up is Low by David Bowie.
Least favorite/most disappointing album ?
The Jesus Lizard – Goat. I’ve really enjoyed the band live, and I don’t really hear it on that record.
First concert attended ?
The first concert I went to under my own steam was Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden in 1974 – benefit for Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer wrongly convicted of murder. The first concert I actually attended was probably a classical concert my parents dragged me to as a toddler. They were really into that. I just sat there in my little suit and tie fuming.
Last concert ?
Tania Stavreva playing solo classical piano at Roulette in Manhattan last week – Debussy and Prokofiev. A total coincidence that my first and last concerts are both classical.
Favorite concert ever ?
It really might be Sonic Youth doing the last concert ever at McCarren Park Pool in Williamsburg Brooklyn in 2008. It might not count so much cause it’s one of “my” bands, but honestly I’ve seen them and hated them. When they seem comfortable, like too Pavement-y, I feel they’ve really lost the original mission of indie/post-punk.
Least favorite concert ?
God, that’s easy. Rasputina easily held up as my worst musical experience of ’08, and still holds the prize. Three women just sawing away on distorted cellos, without anything very compelling on vocals, and a guy doing metal “riffs” on drums. Just stupid crap.
Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh ?
So far it’s been the “touring curse” ..quantity but little quality. You go lots of places, but you’re in and out. I came, did not see, and will have to conquer next time.