Zack Wentz’s new project, (Charles) Book&Record, blurs the line between, well, books and records.
“I often wonder what isn’t antiquated now. It seems like just about anything is almost auto-antiquated right out of the box. That aside, history has been rendered pretty much horizontal because of the internet, so it seems like people creating can pretty much start, or borrow from, any point.” The preceding words are from author, musician, publisher Zack Wentz.
A collaboration of his with hip-hop producer/filmmaker Taj Easton and Shelby Gubba involved spending a year and a half filming and recording in obsessive secrecy, but (Charles) Book&Record doesn’t plan on incorporating any of their 50-plus songs in the “seasons” of their film project, Bad Dreamer. Confused yet?
While sitting inside Wentz and Gubba’s Sherman Heights home, (Charles) Book&Record explains that they are in the process of documenting this nonlinear storyline from Charles himself, the fictional, parenthetical character whom Wentz and Easton allude to throughout our conversation — as if some sort of amorphous entity was overseeing everything, including our talk.
Wentz, who drummed and sang in Kill Me Tomorrow, is no stranger to storytelling, and the line between his stories and music-making has been blurred in the past. For example, his sci-fi novel The Garbageman and the Prostitute worked in conjunction with the Kill Me Tomorrow album of the same title. In addition, Wentz is also founder and editor of New Dead Families, an outlet for underground writers.
“There’s actually a better, more concentrated audience for literary/underground/indie fiction right now, but it’s still more time-consuming and expensive to publish a book than just about any other type of thing. This audience is mostly made up of other writers. A lot of it’s simply going online. Publishing is looking a lot younger, peer-driven. A big part of why I didn’t approach my part in (C)B&R with another book is both because I wanted to do something different and because it’s not a way we could evenly collaborate here. Storytelling will always be at the core of all art and entertainment, no matter how abstract, or even self-referential.”
The music (Charles) Book&Record produces is not easily categorized. In an attempt to describe a possible new genre, let’s try: post-electro-nu-beat-narrative. The band offers up “sci-fi-surrealist-soul.”
Their debut album Leftover Magic is accompanied by a triptych of videos (and their accompanying songs), which you can access from their website: charlesbookandrecord.com.