The Spacewurm has flown the coop. Once a San Diego stalwart, the artist has taken to a nomadic, gypsian life-that is, if gypsies stole cell phone conversations instead of wallets and mixed them into screwy electronic beats.
So, what's this one-man-band's trip nowadays?
Staying out of jail and making art that retains the hardnail dirtiness of his roots: the rotten border squall of San Diego, the town which gave us the great Antioch Arrow and the even greater Crash Worship. A town that, despite a few shiny, sprung-out monkeys, holds hard and fast onto a rough, brutal aesthetic.
The Spacewurm-from an undisclosed location-tells it like this: He realized recently it was time to slip further into the shadows when a random stranger recognized his picture from a corporate rock mag.
The magazine told a familiar story: Man illegally picks up cell and cordless phone conversations with a modified police scanner. Man mixes said conversations into electronic music. Man releases I Listen, a book of transcribed conversations. Man grabs the modern art world by the balls.
“The magazine, yeah,” he says with a sigh. “It was the first time I ever got my picture printed anywhere. Anyway, I was in Tower Records and this guy that worked there said, ‘Hey! You're that Spacewurm guy!' And I was like, ‘awww, fuck!'”
Then, the last straw: He found an article about himself on Motorola's Web site.
“It said, ‘Beware. Your conversations can be heard by an avant garde artist called the Spacewurm,' and I was like, ‘Holy shit! Somebody at Motorola knows what I'm doing and I'm not in jail yet?!' I almost had a heart attack.”
From then on, he began keeping his real name out of the picture. Soon after, he stepped away from doing most press interviews, and then, in a final kiss-off, started moving around, town to town.
Or maybe not. Maybe he's still in town. Maybe he never left. Point is, he tells you what he wants you to know, and he told me what he wanted CityBeat to know.
Confused? Don't be. It goes with the territory. The Spacewurm's gig to mess with your head. Confusing you is the nature of his game.
But back to the music. Most recently, the Spacewurm cut a track for Three One G's Queen tribute compilation, Dynamite With A Laser Beam: Queen As Heard Through the Meat Grinder of Three One G. Where other bands on the album stay true to Queen's vision, he runs it through a gauntlet of fuzzed-up electro-skronk and ear-shredding digital distortion, rendering the song totally, completely unrecognizable, with sheets of white noise as well as inhuman sub-scream vocals from Heroin's Matt Anderson.
Live, he's upped the fury ante lately, often turning shows into a glare of harsh metal machine music-such as he did while opening for the Faint at the Scene this past summer.
“That was a crazy fucking show for me because it was totally sold-out and the kids were obviously there to see the Faint. I'd never played for that many people before. They were, like, pressed up against the stage, right there staring at me. Just tons of screaming kids. The reaction was mixed.
“I definitely got the ‘You suck!' So I played more of my noisier tracks where I was just, like, grinding noise from my laptop for 20 minutes straight.”