Monday, April 28, 2008

ABSOLUTION... Djinji lays it out

I am trying to keep my head from exploding after having just gotten off the phone with Djinji.

Prior to today, the only real contact I ever had with Djinji Brown was moshing in my bedroom, in the gym, and down the street daily to Dead And Gone since the day I heard it. The main thing I wanted to find out before we busted out an interview with him (which will appear here soon) was what was up with the reunion planned for May. Based on what I had read in the past about him, I had this bad feeling that someone talked him into doing this Miami reunion as a late night idea and that he really wasn't feeling it aside for maybe a quick taste of nostalgia. Man, I couldn't have been more wrong.

While I wish I had an audio clip to put up here so you could actually hear the enthusiasm in his voice, I'm only able to recap what he had to say. I think you will understand what I am talking about.
- Gordo DCXX

Absolution returns from the grave, the tombstone having been set in 1989, for a reunion show in Miami, to be followed by...? How the fuck did this develop and how are all of us lucky enough to be privy to it? Djinji explained that this reunion idea kind of kicked off when a local band called La Vieja Guardia ("The Old Guard") had asked permission to cover "Never Ending Game." "It just floored me that some band wanted to cover that song so many years later, it was just very flattering to see that it was still relevant in some way, a song I wrote when I was 17."

Then Djinji explained to me that when John Joseph was in town, the two hung out and reconnected over years of friendship and mutual interests. "The last time I had talked to John Bloodclot was probably like '99 or 2000. But this is a guy who I really gravitated towards when I was 15, 16 years old. Back then I was just a babyfaced kid trying to find my way."

"Hardcore and punk rock had such an anti-government and even atheist attitudes. I was always spiritual and not deceived by the material. I was pulled towards that energy. When I saw people like HR and what the Bad Brains brought to the table, and then Bloodclot and Harley, and their emphasis on the spirit soul and bhakti yoga, it clicked. Those people became sort of 'spiritual masters from the street.' So I hold John Joseph in high regard. When he told me that I belong on the stage again, in Absolution with the mic, that is just impossible to ignore. That is the highest compliment. You know, I have been reading his book. It is fantastic, just one of those books that captures a time and a place, and makes me look back. And I wasn't even living the life he was. He's been a part of the streets his entire life. I saw him get up there, 45 years old, and he is unbelievable. John Joseph is the fuckin' Lance Armstrong of this whole scene and that city, man. Unstoppable. So I have to thank him."

But why now? I had heard (and he confirmed) that others had approached him on this reunion idea before, and there was never a spark. "After Absolution, I walked away completely. I was immersed entirely in music, but not in Absolution. I spent years somewhere else musically and sonically. Jerry Williams hooked me up with music connections, I did my time as an intern, I went to engineering school. I've lived the life as a poet, an MC, a rapper, and a DJ. But it is all traced back to the foundation. Recordings like the ROIR cassette and Age Of Quarrel, it stems from there, the foundation. I want to do this as a way of saying 'Thank You' and to acknowledge where all of this inspiration stems from."

While it may not appear it hear, Djinji's voice could not have been more sincere and amped up. It was almost as if he woke up from along, deep sleep and realized there was something he absolutely needed and wanted to do...immediately. I could tell he was 100%. But what about the other guys? Especially when people had already been saying "scab lineup."

"Gavin and I aren't always in contact, but we know how to get in touch. There is always some type of distress signal if need be. And somehow we are always linked, people know him, they ask about me or vice versa. I know he is out there, our paths are always somehow crossing. I didn't have any contact with him ten years ago when the Absolution material was re-released. This was probably better though, because had I been involved, it might have fallen by the wayside. That just isn't where my energy was at the time. But Gavin, yes. He's in. No other way."

"The other guys are from the band La Vieja Guardia. The drummer is this dude Doug, just a total beast on drums, unstoppable. The guy for the job. The bassist is Willy from that same band. They know how to play with each other, you need a tight rhythm section to hold it down."
I knew he and Sergio were still friends and was surprised to not hear Sergio mentioned. "Sergio and I have been very close friends since we were 15 years old. We are in constant contact, and I immediately asked him about playing. Unfortunately he has a family obligation and will not be able to attend. But he is a lock for New York."

Wait. Did he just say New York? Is this for real for real?

"Yeah, we want to do it there after Miami. It is only fitting, on the home turf. Miami has been good to me. I have been here for four years. But New York is still home, and we will do it there next. I'm excited to bring it back there. That's where I came from. When we come up there, it will be Sergio and his boy Jimmy on drums. They play with each other and know the deal. You gotta have the right people that know how to play together."

Holy shit.

Yet this is where I couldn't help but still wonder: can this be pulled off well? Those songs are no walk in the park performed live, musically or vocally. Having read that Djinji cringed at hearing his voice from back then, I needed to find out what their delivery would be like. "Well Gavin is unbelievable. I have gone back and listened to those songs, and it is mind-blowing. He combined elements of metal, classic rock, hard rock, punk, everything...his song writing celebrates every group that has ever mattered. I need to be able to perform in a way that compliments Gavin and Gavin's vision. I don't know if I did that when I was 17? Back then it was just me singing in a way where I was trying to mutate my voice and make it sound like it should fit the music. Now...I don't know. It will be raw, but delivered more from the pocket."

"See, the lyrics and the message are where this comes from. None of that has changed. I go back and read the lyrics, and I don't even know who wrote them. I wrote them, but how? I was 17, how was this possible? That message is still true. But as an artist, I have learned how to deliver the message and what I am saying or singing, that is my I need to do that in the way that best presents the lyrics, and I'm not sure of how I did it back then."

"So how it will sound...I don't know. I mean I definitely have more hair on my nuts now, my voice has changed, it has been 20 years. To connect, I have been listening to everything: from Muddy Waters, to Robert Plant, to Van Halen, you know...where singers really pull it from down low. It could be like it was back then, but I just feel it different. I mean to get up there and sing it and feel it and remember it, you know when it is really time for it to come off, it could really be something. It could be something new, just crazy, like BOOM! There could be a lot of James Brown energy on that motherfucker."

See you in Miami.

"We were the self taught, street educated, self determined, drug medicated, thugged out or punked out we regulated, from the start to the heart, out the gutter with art we elevated! R.I.P to those who never graduated out the class of the underclass and remain heavily sedated, as their souls pass...the memories fill just a half full glass. Inhaling off a pull then pass, I stage dived and stayed live when I busted my ass. What blended time, bitter sweet to remember...We used to pray for Absolution to make a cold heart tender."


soulfire said...


Don't ever think it's DEAD AND GONE!

erik anarchy

PS: No Mouthpiece in the best Jersey band poll? D'uh...

Anonymous said...

What's that last part of the interview? Absolution lyric or Djinji as an MC?