[Image: Pass-A-Fist - The Lighthouse, January 1994 Page 8 Thumbnail]
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[Image: Pass-A-Fist - The Lighthouse, January 1994 Page 9 Thumbnail]
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The Lighthouse
January 1994 Volume 3 Number 1
© 1994 by Polarized Productions
Pages 8-9

For avid fans of Chagall Guevara, the names Waco and Reno Caruso should sound familiar. They were part of the "Blind Willy Boner Brass" that performed on one track of the Chagall Guevara project.

With the help of Chagall members Lynn Nichols and Dave Perkins as producers (and mentors), the pair, now known as PASS-A-FIST, has ventured out into musical waters barely tested by the Christian arena--industrial music. Probably due to the aggressive music, and violent and angry vocals in secular industrial music, there are not many groups exploring this style.

While the Caruso brothers were unavailable to talk about their self-titled debut (Perkins assures, "Waco and Reno are alive and well and floating through all the major capitol cities and fun spots of the United States and Europe.") I was able to speak with Perkins and Nichols recently--surprisingly, in the morning. I found that the reason they like to chat in the mornings is to keep themselves on a good working schedule, mainly for their children: Audrey, Kyle-Michael, Quinn, Maxwell, and Jackson Perkins and Katrina, Bianca, and Damon Nichols.

Perkins got started in music performing and recording as a guitarist with Jerry Jeff Walker, and released his first solo album in 1987 called The Innocence. Nichols was an executive with A&M Records. Nichols and Steve Taylor assisted Perkins on his solo album, which was the first time this trio collaborated. They later formed Chagall Guevara, along with Wade Jaynes and Mike Mead. Perkins and Nichols have a long track record together, producing albums for an impressive list of artists.

I have tried to piece together our scattered discussions, ramblings, and jokes into something remotely intelligible for you.

LH: "You guys should really be fitting in down there in Nashville with such big families. What about Reno and Waco? Do they have large families?"

L: "No. Waco and Reno have no children. They're unmarried, but they are twins--not identical."

D: "You might not know the story on them. It was an odd thing. They were originally born to a woman in Texas, and they were, through her misfortune, split up at several months old and adopted into foster families. They rediscovered themselves just five or six years ago. The similarities between them are pretty amazing on a musical level. They've since been reunited with their mother and found out that they have several other brothers and sisters, but they are definitely the stars of the family. The rest of the family is living down in Texas, and we don't want to say where (for their protection). [Laughter]"

LH: "Did you know them before they helped out on the Chagall project?"

D: "No. They were notorious on the street, here in Nashville, and we thought we would give them a shot. So, we used the horn section that they were in on the song 'Play God.' Lynn, do you have any further remembrances?"

L: "I don't think anything printable. [Laughter] I think they straightened themselves out and convinced Dave and I..."

D: "to do the right thing."

L: "Yeah. [Laughter]"

D: "We felt like working with them would be an encouragement to them to keep their faces in the right direction."

LH: "So, as producers, you had a lot of influence on the album?"

L: "Yeah, I think we had a good bit of influence. Once we were able to get them to leave their bullwhip and bowie knives out of the studio, we were able to have a lot more effect. [Laughter]"

LH: "So where did they come up with the name PASS-A-FIST?"

L: "We're not 100% sure."

D: "It says a little something about the times, I think. Everything's upside down."

L: "I don't know if you've heard any of the music. It's a bit of a juxtaposition of music that's industrial, with a name like that. A lot of industrial music does seem to be rather militant and some of its ideas tend to be rather violent and/or other things. There's a lot of facets to the name, but I think it just sounded good to them at the time. Kind of like Chagall Guevara for us. I don't know where that came from either."

LH: "I've heard one song from the project and it was pretty industrial influenced, sort of like Chagall-goes-industrial. Is that something you are interested in, or just the Carusos?"

D: "I had gotten a call to do a piece of music for a movie that was being shot over in London--it was a remake of an old 1930's horror movie--and put together a song kind of semi-industrial styling. It was called 'Christ of the Nuclear Age.' Lynn and I have a co-producers reel of things that we've both produced that we've been circulating and that song just happened to be on the reel, even though at the time it was a demo. Well, Reno took a fancy to it. So, we were just chatting around and came up with the thought that we should follow through on this little speck of an idea and expand it together."

LH: "That's the song I heard. I was wondering where your desire came to get involved in something so industrial."

L: "Sometimes I think it just comes down to yearning to do something different. One of the prize things about being creative and being an artist is the ability to do different things. Too often in the market place, people want artists to do one thing and they're upset when somebody moves on to other things. By no means is it something that Dave or I plan to camp out on--even if Reno and Waco do another record. We both have come from doing albums that have real instruments and real players as opposed to machine records. I think it's kind of intriguing to both of us. Making machine records is not anything new, we're kind of sick of it in some ways, but doing it with this kind of a twist sounded very interesting--a challenge and something fun to do. It was fun to do something where it was primarily Waco, Reno, and a computer and samples."

D: "The other thing that we were seeing as well, I had been listening to a lot of industrial music for the past, probably, eighteen months. The thing that I was noticing was that it was a short-lived listening experience. The initial burst was highly gratifying on an emotional level, but the song structure wasn't there. It was all loop and pretty monotonous stuff. The thought on my part was, 'Why does it have to be like this? Why can't you write real songs that have movements and combine it with this?'"

L: "Once you've heard one eight-minute song, you've heard them all, primarily. We did feel like we merged other worlds with that."

D: "While we know there's nothing new under the sun, I think that there's certainly an 'on-off button' in me that's kind of hot-wired to on, to keep trying to evolve and that just means going into personally explored territory, ever onward and upward."

LH: "So I should expect to hear more songs that sound like 'Christ of the Nuclear Age?'"

D: "It careens back and forth. It's all technobased. I think people's perceptions of what to call it will change on a per-song basis. It runs everything from a hard-core industrial to almost a pop-techno to an acid-house rendering. There's a song called 'Emmanuel Chant' that's kind of a cryptic psychedelic hodgepodge of stuff."

LH: "As far as lyrical content, what does the album have to say?"

L: "It kind of runs the gambit. 'Christ of the Nuclear Age' is one that Dave wrote coming from the standpoint that if Christ arrived here today, on earth for the first time, rather than when He originally showed up, what would happen--what would be people's reaction?"

D: "The germ of that comes from 'My Utmost for His Highest' by Oswald Chambers. It talked about the robust humanity of Christ and how that's highly neglected in the faith, yet there's a strong lesson there. When you talk about the robust humanity of Christ, it brings your own humanity into the picture and you think, 'What would happen now, where would we find Him?' Of course, in the song you would find Him not disassociating Himself from sinners. There's a verse where He's with the girls in a strip joint. On top of all that, you put yourself in the place of being in the religious establishment, as the pharasitical element was back then, and there's a lesson in that, I believe. Another song which was an idea that Reno germinated is a song called 'The Glock' which is, 'These days, if you want to be the man of the hour, you better get yourself some firepower.' It's a sardonic social commentary on something that everybody is beginning to find a unanimous voice on--that we need to do something about guns. It's certainly not a new theme, but we thought we would toss another log on the fire to give people something to think about."

LH: "No overall planning in collecting the songs?"

D: "No. [Laughter]"

LH: "That seems to be a trend with the projects you work on."

D: "We kind of helped Waco and Reno write them as they went along. One of the early ones was 'Love 900.' Which is basically a song about phone sex and getting your fortunes told and psychic hotlines. We kind of wrapped them into one and laid out a story line of two people that are highly mutually co-dependent. Once again, there are lines in there that primarily make cultural commentary from our viewpoint. There's one line in the song that says, 'Push the buttons for your psychic gal, just as sick as the law allows.' It's basically to point a finger, not only at the weirdness of the practice itself, but the double weirdness of the legislative allowance and controls on it. It's like legalized mind prostitution."

LH: "You said that you guys don't want to get trapped in a rut, but do you think this is something that Reno and Waco would like to continue on?"

L: "I think they're open to continuing on. We just started out and this thing sprung up. In the process of trying to sort out what we were going to do as far as Chagall, Dave and I were producing other projects, and this thing gained some momentum--Dave and I enjoy working together and enjoyed working with Waco and Reno. Maybe they'll come back with another one. At this point, there are no grandiose plans, but we would certainly like to help them with it."

D: "Initially, the thought of it was that it was a lark, then we got into the project and Waco and Reno actually found out their artistic substance within the process. I think, also, came up with, perhaps not a ground-breaking musical presentation, but one that combines elements that are interesting together, just in the way Waco and Reno play guitars over that heavy computer-based rhythm drive. There are a few songs that are, I think, far enough off the beaten path enough to say that we made a contribution. Under those terms, you could definitely see them pursuing it and looking forward to it to continue to evolve."

LH: "We're devoting our January issue to debut artists, and that's why we were interested in PASS-A-FIST. But, this musical style is so different, even for you two, do you feel like you are almost starting over, too?"

L: "I think you bring along everything that you've learned along with you, and certain of those things show up. Then, you try to leave behind certain things and acquire some new ideas and some new tastes. Dave and I have been around a while, but Dave and I were just the producers. Waco and Reno were the really true artists."

LH: "Was there a major reason that the Carusos signed with R.E.X.?"

D: "There was a specific interest in going with them as opposed to other people who were showing strong interest in this project, that's at R.E.X., they felt that there would be a very high ceiling of artistic expression. I think that R.E.X. exhibited a certain trust and confidence in what we would do with Waco and Reno. And, a certain sharing of philosophy and belief level, and a genuine lack of superstitious fear in the open discussion of ideas and how we would handle those things."

LH: "Well, thanks for the time, and covering for Reno and Waco while they're off having some fun. I'm anxious to hear the album."

D: "It's got a big bark, but its bite is pretty friendly. It's like a box of Whitman chocolates--every one is different."

All analogies to candy aside, once you hear the project, I think you'll agree with me that Reno and Waco Caruso sound uncanningly like Nichols and Perkins (respectively). But, I just couldn't bring myself to ask them if it was all a big joke...

J. Warner Soditus