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Stay Strange turns a page with authors Patrick Loveland and Chad Deal

Performances planned for the North Park Book Fair

You can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, maybe a little, as these Stay Strange offerings suggest.
You can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, maybe a little, as these Stay Strange offerings suggest.

Circa 2006, Sam Lopez was in a band, playing what he refers to as “straight music” and feeling as if he had reached a plateau. He felt he needed to take his music in a completely different direction, and had a revelation that he now equates to a scene from Apocalypse Now. “Remember when Kurtz said he felt like a diamond bullet hit him in the middle of his forehead and he got that moment of clarity? That sort of happened to me, where I felt like a joker. Like an imposter. I stopped with the straight music and started going into more of an experimental route, and found that it was very liberating. It was probably the free-est music that I’ve played, ever.”

Over the following years, Lopez would go on to form his own noise rock band, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and would also join two different local, experimental music collectives: SD Noise and Trummerflora. When the latter fizzled out around 2010, Lopez said, “Fuck it, I’m gonna start my own thing.” His Stay Strange collective was up and running by 2012.

Stay Strange started out by booking shows at music-oriented clubs such as Soda Bar, The Void, and The Hideout. But Lopez soon found that alternative spaces were often a better fit for the jarring music that he was presenting. Local libraries, institutions famous for cracking the whip on any noise rising above a whisper, nevertheless became one of his preferred outlets for showcasing ear-bleeding, experimental music. He tried unsuccessfully to get a show into the old location of the downtown library (on E Street), but got a break when a librarian from the Malcolm X Library contacted him via email. “He goes ‘I see what you’re doing, do you want to have a show?’ The heavens opened up and the light shined through, and I was like ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’ That was my first foray into the library system. We had Author & Punisher play, and he blew out all the lights and everything. It was completely awesome.”

All that time in the library may have played a role in what is a relatively new venture for Stay Strange: publishing books. It started when horror and science-fiction writer Patrick Loveland asked Lopez if he would be willing to release his anthology Too Many Eyes. Stay Strange had already branched out to releasing music and creating their own clothing, and publishing seemed like another natural progression. Chad Deal (occasional Reader scribe and local musician) released his book Ketcel via Stay Strange in April of this year; both Loveland and Deal will be present at the two Stay Strange booths (in front of Dark Horse Coffee) at the North Park Book Fair on Saturday, July 17.

Past Event

North Park Book Fair

  • Saturday, July 17, 2021, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • North Park Way between 29th and Ray

Encouraged by Lopez, Deal created his own 40-minute soundtrack for Ketcel. He will be performing pieces from that soundtrack during the Fair. The event will also feature “live noise readings” courtesy of MJ Stevens. “Everything [Stevens] does is just really bizarre and shocking,” Lopez explained. “He’ll make guitars that have tree limbs on them. With him being a book lover and also a noise artist as well, I figured it would be cool to do some sort of noise reading where he incorporates some prose, some poetry, and some interesting scraping demonic noise. The noise reading would be him doing this insane word experimental mish-mash stuff.”

So, yeah, picking out the Stay Strange crew at the Book Fair shouldn’t be an issue. “With any Stay Strange event, I always want to make it fun, interesting, and I always want to do something that is a little bit different and maybe shake up whatever event we’re in. There’s a lot of things that are going to be going on, but I want to do something that’s gonna be, like, ‘Who the hell are these Stay Strange people?’ I always love the fact that people will come to us out of interest, or horror, or maybe they’re offended by something, sonically speaking. I always want to leave an impression.”

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You can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, maybe a little, as these Stay Strange offerings suggest.
You can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, maybe a little, as these Stay Strange offerings suggest.

Circa 2006, Sam Lopez was in a band, playing what he refers to as “straight music” and feeling as if he had reached a plateau. He felt he needed to take his music in a completely different direction, and had a revelation that he now equates to a scene from Apocalypse Now. “Remember when Kurtz said he felt like a diamond bullet hit him in the middle of his forehead and he got that moment of clarity? That sort of happened to me, where I felt like a joker. Like an imposter. I stopped with the straight music and started going into more of an experimental route, and found that it was very liberating. It was probably the free-est music that I’ve played, ever.”

Over the following years, Lopez would go on to form his own noise rock band, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and would also join two different local, experimental music collectives: SD Noise and Trummerflora. When the latter fizzled out around 2010, Lopez said, “Fuck it, I’m gonna start my own thing.” His Stay Strange collective was up and running by 2012.

Stay Strange started out by booking shows at music-oriented clubs such as Soda Bar, The Void, and The Hideout. But Lopez soon found that alternative spaces were often a better fit for the jarring music that he was presenting. Local libraries, institutions famous for cracking the whip on any noise rising above a whisper, nevertheless became one of his preferred outlets for showcasing ear-bleeding, experimental music. He tried unsuccessfully to get a show into the old location of the downtown library (on E Street), but got a break when a librarian from the Malcolm X Library contacted him via email. “He goes ‘I see what you’re doing, do you want to have a show?’ The heavens opened up and the light shined through, and I was like ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’ That was my first foray into the library system. We had Author & Punisher play, and he blew out all the lights and everything. It was completely awesome.”

All that time in the library may have played a role in what is a relatively new venture for Stay Strange: publishing books. It started when horror and science-fiction writer Patrick Loveland asked Lopez if he would be willing to release his anthology Too Many Eyes. Stay Strange had already branched out to releasing music and creating their own clothing, and publishing seemed like another natural progression. Chad Deal (occasional Reader scribe and local musician) released his book Ketcel via Stay Strange in April of this year; both Loveland and Deal will be present at the two Stay Strange booths (in front of Dark Horse Coffee) at the North Park Book Fair on Saturday, July 17.

Past Event

North Park Book Fair

  • Saturday, July 17, 2021, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • North Park Way between 29th and Ray

Encouraged by Lopez, Deal created his own 40-minute soundtrack for Ketcel. He will be performing pieces from that soundtrack during the Fair. The event will also feature “live noise readings” courtesy of MJ Stevens. “Everything [Stevens] does is just really bizarre and shocking,” Lopez explained. “He’ll make guitars that have tree limbs on them. With him being a book lover and also a noise artist as well, I figured it would be cool to do some sort of noise reading where he incorporates some prose, some poetry, and some interesting scraping demonic noise. The noise reading would be him doing this insane word experimental mish-mash stuff.”

So, yeah, picking out the Stay Strange crew at the Book Fair shouldn’t be an issue. “With any Stay Strange event, I always want to make it fun, interesting, and I always want to do something that is a little bit different and maybe shake up whatever event we’re in. There’s a lot of things that are going to be going on, but I want to do something that’s gonna be, like, ‘Who the hell are these Stay Strange people?’ I always love the fact that people will come to us out of interest, or horror, or maybe they’re offended by something, sonically speaking. I always want to leave an impression.”

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