To put into perspective what life was like in 2004, when Antigravity was launched, here are a few realities the people of New Orleans knew: TwiRoPa was a live and functioning club in the Lower Garden District and not a concrete slab. In place of Peaches was Tower Records, one of the dying mega-music stores of the digital age. Mermaid Lounge and Dixie Taverne were open and serving the underground music lovers of New Orleans (the Mermaid was lost to rising rents, the Dixie to rising tides). Arcade Fire played the Parish at the House of Blues and the Black Lips played the Circle Bar. Friendster was a thing. Chappelle Show. Bush/ Cheney. The Sopranos ended. Seems like forever ago, doesn’t it? It wasn’t always pretty, but it sure felt real. We laughed, we cried, we published. Here, to share some tears and beers, is part of the AG family that’s grown out of the past decade.
Consider this: David Giffels writes of the development of rock in the midwest: “Rock and roll needs a void, and we had that, in abundance. We had empty garages and basements and warehouses, and great stretches of empty time, and—most important—no one paying attention.”
While much of New Orleans and its visitors has been stunned by the spotlight on more traditional local culture, such an environment has allowed Antigravity to stealthily arrive and thrive in this town for ten years now, raising a raucous— sometimes downright unruly—yet always relevant voice on what has been deemed “alternative” culture. That Antigravity is predominantly a free paper first and foremost in a time seeing the rise of virtual media makes it all the more precious as a cultural touchstone, a small, potent remnant of DIY zinedom available in many locations around town. What I value Antigravity for the most, however, is its encouraging environment for its contributors, its willingness to take risks that has been there from its very beginnings, and how it’s been aging (and raging against it the whole time) so damned well.
While some may express surprise that an underground of any kind exists in New Orleans at all, jokingly dismissing it as a physical impossibility due to this town’s geography, I for one am happy to see what develops here in spite of commonly-held perceptions about what constitutes local culture. There are actually some basements in New Orleans—and bet on this: Antigravity will be in them, chronicling what develops. —Leigh Checkman
I firmly believe AG had a big hand in putting Glorybee on the map. I can loosely recall the photo shoot for the first cover. It was somewhere in the beginning, and we were a hot ticket among a loving, faithful fanbase. I wore a blue robe, crown, and King Diamond- like face paint. Nasty Burga’ Kang wore her traditional bumblebee outfit, and Masta Boink looked as hideous and tragic as ever, adorned in black. We shot at the power station at the Elysian Fields curve behind the Mint. AG has provided great publications over the years and continues to dominate more and more, but it was especially great being there at the very beginning. —Dirk Fontenot, aka Lord Hoffa of Glorybee
Memories of Antigravity, I have a few. Sitting at Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, where I finished the first issue and sent it off to the printer… Being in the French Quarter over the summer of 2004, distributing the first few issues out of a red wagon I’d pile high with copies… Laughing with Noah in early 2005 when he got back into my car holding a complimentary to-go shot of Jameson after dropping copies off at Ms. Mae’s (“The bartender’s a fan!”)… One Man Machine performing in the Handsome Willy’s courtyard at the summer ‘05 office-warming party… Matt Friedberger telling me his grandmother had our October ‘04 issue tacked on her refrigerator because it was the first time the Fiery Furnaces were on a cover… The best post-apocalyptic ham sandwich my wife and I’ve ever had, served by Kappa Horn at the oasis that was Slim Goodies in mid-September ‘05… Everyone at Print-All in Belle Chasse (who was the only printer in the area that would deal with us post-Katrina) but especially the ladies in the back who’d have to assemble by hand each copy of our print run whenever we did an issue over 32 pages, and were always funny and great to be around… The only time I was ever threatened while distributing, at a now-closed coffee shop in the Marigny, where a scary-looking guy accosted me for “leading graffiti artists to the 9th Ward” because of stories on the Gray Ghost… Tabling at the ‘05 Voodoo Music Experience in Memphis with our first post-Katrina issue… Letters from Biff Rose… Meeting Shannah and Katy from Twisted Hair Salon for the first time… I can keep going for a long time… I started this thing because I wanted to read about the New Orleans I know, and thought other people would too. Ten years later, Antigravity has picked up around 10,000 friends along the way. You guys prove this was worth doing. —Leo McGovern
What I remember most clearly about my time at Antigravity is riding shotgun in Leo’s car a month after Katrina. We had cobbled together an issue from articles that were either already canned before the storm, or lifted from emails that contributors filed (if one could call it that) in the weeks thereafter. Half- completed interviews and messy op-eds trickled in at all hours of the night from all over the country—Chicago, Baton Rouge, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, Memphis, and all the big and empty spaces in between. Once we went to press and hit the streets to distribute the issue, I remember getting this swelling pride in my chest as Leo dodged fallen power lines and toppled dumpsters so I could jump out the car and drop off the stacks at coffee shops and restaurants and bars across the city. A lot of the places weren’t even open yet and if they were, it was only just barely, the kind of “open” where you can’t buy anything off the menu unless it came uncooked.
After we were done, I remember Leo smiling a great big smile and both of us feeling like we had really done something. And despite what the Times Picayune or the Gambit might have said, I still believe we were the first to publish after the storm—and who gives a fuck how intricate or grownup the operation? We were first.
Ever since then, I’ve thought a lot about that day and even sometimes wondered if we weren’t just a bit silly—a bunch of 20-somethings working til death just to get a music magazine out the door. I mean it was such a small thing, really, especially up against the unbearable largeness of everything that was going on around us, when 20-something all of a sudden didn’t seem all that young anymore. But it wasn’t about what band was playing or what album was dropping or what show was coming but only that we kept on doing what we were doing and kept things going as we wanted them to go, and if that meant writing 250 words about a band whose name I have long forgotten, so be it. It wasn’t like rebuilding levees but it was the rebuilding of something.
And there was courage in it. In the end, making stories for Antigravity taught me that there’s only one right way to get through life’s many floods—and that’s the way that keeps you afloat. —Patrick Strange
Lefty said that I came into Circle Bar with the new Soul Asylum CD and didn’t want to review it, so he said he would review it for me, then he texted me his review, I think. Then I got the Hazard County Girls CD and he decided to review it psychically without listening to it. Obviously being able to review albums with psychic powers is a very attractive quality, because we have now been married for five years. —Alison Fensterstock
I remember how important it was for me to resume my routine in New Orleans after Katrina. I was ready to forget about the storm and move ahead. Or at least I thought I was. I may as well have been trying to walk down the street with a body cast on. I was wounded. Healing would come later, though. What I wanted at the time, no matter how stubborn a request, was blinders.
Normalcy. Voodoo Fest 2005 at The Fly, officially Riverview Park within Audubon Park, was that normalcy. This was actually AG’s first year as a Voodoo sponsor, but the everydayness was present in the familiar faces of friends like Arthur Mintz and the music I love/loved, notably Queens of the Stone Age, Nine Inch Nails, Secret Machines, and Death From Above 1979. Queens frontman Josh Homme stopped their set and grabbed two beach balls that had been floating around the crowd. He held them aloft and said, “This is what New Orleans has: big fuckin’ balls.”
My favorite memory of that day comes from when it got dark. I sat with my girlfriend at the time, Grissel, on the grass watching Nine Inch Nails, legs stretched out, arms behind me. I remember being at peace as I was visually pounded by the light show. Probably more like shock. But, at the time, I felt still and happy. Maybe for the first time in a few months. –Jason Songe
Around 2007 to 2008 I had the pleasure of creating some of my most memorable editorial cover photographs for Antigravity. I photographed The Bad Off, Guitar Lightnin’ Lee, Antennae Inn, and many more. The group that stands out the most are The Bally Who?. The story goes that I had a dream of the band dressed in their blue high school marching band uniforms on a levee, and behind them were a group of random, out of focus musicians and friends acting up, waving instruments, and just having fun. I coordinated with Jaques and Rene Duforc and the dream was realized, complete with eight friends all decked out in way too small high school band uniforms, tambourines, guitars, and one lion mask. We hit my then-favorite shooting spot on the levee opposite Mat and Naddies (RIP due to rebuild and big fence) at sunset. I directed the “band” while Jaques and Rene cut up in the foreground. I used longer lenses and had the band walking into Jaques’ mouth, and all kinds of crazy stuff. I always look at this shoot as a turning point in my career as I then started directing photoshoots like a performance rather than a person just looking at the camera. —Zack Smith
In those days, we’d pull all-nighters huddled over a PowerBook—that’s MacBook Senior for all you punk millennials (shaking fist)—getting this line or that font to look just wrong. More fun were the West Bank pickups and guerrilla drop-offs, street-teaming like maniacs and distributing to Baton Rouge only as an excuse to get soul food at Silver Moon (RIP), the rear end of Leo’s Saturn taunting the pavement like disobedient hydraulics. While we’re RIPing, how about one for Mermaid Lounge, the place that made me fall in love with New Orleans rock shows (of Montreal playing all of Satanic Panic in the Attic killed; still pissed I missed Joanna Newsom), and TwiRoPa, the place that made me fall in love with the idea of New Orleans rock shows. It’s hilarious to think how hyped we all were for Interpol, 11th-grade-poetry lyrics and all. (Like Oliver Stone and the moon landing, I still maintain they propped up cutouts in the choking fog and played Antics on CD.) It was with Antigravity, and the creative freedom provided and encouraged therein, that I found my voice as a writer. —Noah Bonaparte
There I was, sitting in a sweltering pizza joint on Magazine Street, wondering what the fuck I was doing in this alien planet when I flipped open one of the first issues of Antigravity. I’d just moved into town from the Great Plains and the humidity, the rain, the boozy perfume of the place was overwhelming. Yet here was a cool little magazine cobbled together by little more than a laptop, ink, some trees, and a few people’s drive… this broken city produced treasures! I wrote a letter, it got printed and then a storm blew me back to Oklahoma for a bit. As soon as I got back I shot off a review submission to Leo and started almost a decade of records piling up on my desk, of late nights trying not to write like a fool, of interviews and deadlines and the closest thing to a fun job I ever fell across. This little black and white paper let me talk to musicians, buy records, and put my useless thoughts on display. What could be better? Even now, though my life has moved away from the city that spawned it, Antigravity is my connection to NOLA. —Mike Rodgers
I was 19 when Leo and Noah let me start putting words to paper. Like all teenagers, I was woefully undereducated and blissfully unaware of that fact. In some ways that was probably a good thing: not having any kind of musical vocabulary or historical knowledge, I waxed some deeply weird metaphor about capturing and eating Kevin Barnes in my AG review of Of Montreal’s The Sunlandic Twins. But I also remember asking a barely formed question about the “influence of Romanticism” that I’d purported to have picked up listening to Trail of Dead’s Worlds Apart when I interviewed Conrad Keely in 2005. It was the first interview I ever conducted, and Leo put it on the cover. Keely, who saw right through me, didn’t call me out, but blandly listed several periods of art history that he found inspiring. Like Keely in that moment, Leo consistently had the grace to let me stumble around while I tried to find my critical and artistic voice. Being young and in a new city meant picking up the issues of AG that I found scattered around TwiRoPa or Rocks Off and reading about Glorybee and TV on the Radio. We didn’t have these things in Lafayette; they only existed on the Internet, if at all. But holding those early issues, smelling the newsprint, reading about things going on at Spellcaster’s Lodge that would have frightened me to death if I’d ever tried them out—they were proof that I was in a place, that there were things happening around me that were new and shocking. —Marty Garner
Leo emailed me. In 2007, a friend of a friend dropped him a line saying I was interested in writing for Antigravity, which wasn’t true. I was obsessed with wanting to write for Antigravity. And Leo emailed me. He gave me one of my first breaks, and I probably was insufferable and likely bothered the shit out of him (in emails and on the phone as I walked between classes at school) over the next few months about story ideas — which amounted to a few features and show previews. I’d sit on the floor or at an empty desk at Loyola’s Maroon office very late at night and hammer out what I had hoped were the most impressive sounding strings of words, then delete most of them and start over. One morning I got an email: “Oh, by the way, that preview you’re doing is now going to be an album review.” I died. A few years later, during a series of crises in New Orleans (and also, not known to him, for myself ), Leo wrote, “Why Print Doesn’t Suck.” It’s hanging up in my office. —Alex Woodward
I moved home to New Orleans in March 2007. Not long after, Dan began his campaign for me to write. I didn’t know a thing about music but he convinced me that I could write about anything important to post-K NOLA life. I don’t remember when I first learned about the Gray Ghost but I do remember that once I did, I saw him everywhere. His tag was ubiquitous. And make no mistake—it was a tag. A large gray blob (buffing out other street art) was his signature the same way that a street artist might tag their name or symbol. Dan encouraged me to dig further and learn whatever I could about him and his “War on Graffiti.” Fred Radtke earned his nickname “The Gray Ghost” because he would only sneak out to paint over the street art in the dead of night. I ended up interviewing dozens of New Orleans artists about Radtke, many of whom spoke to me on condition of anonymity. My favorite were the Krewe of Krabkakes, whose tag was a stencil of a cat. They were adamant about their secrecy. To express my solidarity, when we met I wore a tee shirt that said “Cosmic Pussy Power” with pictures of cats. My interviews about the Gray Ghost generated so much material that we decided to do a two-part feature article over two months (I did try to contact Radtke. I left a message at his home telling him we would print exactly what he wanted to say, no alteration. He never called back.) I could not dream of a better way to be welcomed home than meeting an army of artists dedicated to keeping New Orleans a haven for the weird and wayward. —Sara Pic
Once upon a time, when I was still a young man, before I became an unhinged drifter, before I was overtaken by the unforgiving ravages of time, before decades of punk rock turned me into the horrifying and unsociable monstrosity that I am today, I wrote for Antigravity. As I lay here on the floor, sleeping night after night on a mountain of decaying, sun-bleached copies of Antigravity from years gone by, I slumber soundly knowing that my indecipherable rantings once defiled the pages of one of New Orleans’ most indispensable art rags. For two years, I wandered the crooked, crusty corridors of the Crescent City in the service of Antigravity with but a knife in my pocket and a song in my heart. There were adventures, certainly, often originating somewhere between St. Roch and St. Claude, long after the fall of the Dixie Taverne (hallowed be thy scum), we found ourselves drifting from the Hi-Ho Lounge to the Dragon’s Den, from One Eyed Jacks to the new Howlin’ Wolf and on towards morning. In those days, we were lost to the chronicle of night, young, hungry, starving, and thirsty, of course. There were PBRs and other beverages whose names we’ll never recall. There were sidewalk songs, there were sing-a-longs, there were pretentious rockstar egos, ill-advised emcee interviews. At least one death threat was received, and perhaps some tacky tit-for-tat on the tacky, tacky internet. And, on occasion, there was informed discussion of art and music and an ever-so-slight injection of punk rock ethos into these very pages. I remember the dearly departed Big Top, which in a remarkably short time grew to become one of the most important art spaces in our city’s history, with her indelibly decked walls, her often-times shriek-inducing unisex bathroom, and her reasonably priced bar. Existing on that fringe is what made Antigravity so vital to our strange cultural brew to begin with and, ten years on, why it remains vital today. Not bad for a bunch of no-good hipsters! As I descend slowly into madness, as my bedroom is steadily overtaken by steampunk paraphernalia and innumerable jars of urine, I’ll cackle confidently knowing that Antigravity is out there getting weird with freaks in the middle of the night. —Brett Schwaner
My first published photograph was in Antigravity. Not just in this magazine, but of my whole career. The photo was of the Local Skank down at Banks St. Bar somewhere around 2009. I remember taking the photos on a shitty plastic Holga (literally held together with duct tape) and absolutely hating the one they chose to publish! I freaked out all the way to distro day until I picked up the issue, raced to the back photo page, and cried like a baby—in the coffee shop. It was probably the proudest moment of my life. Since then, I’ve been hooked. Antigravity has truly become my outlet for creativity and I’m eternally grateful to have it in my life. Imperfections and all. —Adrienne Battistella
I can’t believe it’s been 10 years that AG’s been on the map! I’ve been very honored to be able to contribute in little ways with such pieces as my guest guidance counseling way back in the day with my b.f.f. (bob friend forever), Adele, the op-ed I wrote on panicky parenting, also with Adele, and lastly the first installation of “The Last Supper” (with guess who…) where I had tons of fun and lots of regrets. Word to the wise: don’t ever get drunk and say things out loud when a guy is intently looking at you with a pen and paper.
Anyhow, I was asked to write about my most memorable AG moment and, while there are many, one immediately came to mind: Nobu on the toilet at The Saint. This is one simple picture yet it means so much to me. It begs one to ask the question, “Who the hell takes a shit at The Saint?” and in silk underwear no less. The look on his face and subsequent verbal attack on those of us in witness at his picture being taken made me laugh for days. But most importantly it commemorates two friends that we lost: Nobu himself, who moved back to Japan shortly thereafter and Brian Turd who we lost to a bastard murderer nearly six years ago.
This photo was Brian’s genius/asshole idea. Die Rotz were playing at The Saint that night and luckily Dan Fox was in attendance with his camera. Brian asked Dan to borrow it then busted the men’s bathroom door open, knowing full well what Nobu was doing and that it was going to infuriate him. I was the all too happy bartender on duty that night. This picture personified Brian. He lived to piss you off, lovingly. Thank you Antigravity for letting me be part of your rad magazine even though I hate writing/am a shitty writer. It’s been fun. And if this is the first time you’re seeing this photo, you’re welcome. —Skwirl
I could point to some notable memories from my time as an Antigravity columnist: being confronted outside one of Bryan Funck’s shows at Sean Whompus’ house in Mid City for my hyperbolic derision of the New Orleans punk scene, and for continually shielding myself behind an Iron Rail table and deflecting any further grasp at social “participation.” Or the time Leo imparted via email that I was “just being an asshole” for seething hatred for the Saints hysteria sweeping my wider social circles.
But one memory strikes me as particularly poignant: a show at some dingy bar in Austin as part of Chaos in Tejas. Thou was playing (naturally), and a three-piece from Olympia called Gun Outfit. I lay sprawled across a pool table writhing in physical agony from the arthritis that had taken hold of my spine. I remember I had been texting about The Hunger Games with the most devastating crush of my life, and feeling like I just wanted to crawl into a hole somewhere and die. Thankfully, I had this upstairs room all to myself, my barrier from the outside world. Until I heard that familiar twang signalling me to emerge from my cave. Pygmy Lush, last band of the night, doing their “quiet” set—my favorite. Purple light flitted across the dark room as I claimed my spot on the stairs just above the drums, head pressed to the wooden banister. Andy Gibbs sat one below me, and we gave each other a knowing look, one barely perceptible nod: laden with solemnity, colluding in each other’s need for solitude in an environment where such was near impossible. Pygmy Lush played that set, and I remember feeling captivated, moved, emotion welling up like my heart was being rung out.
Afterwards we drove through the night, and I remember the sun rising epically across the tree-lined horizon of I-10 as we entered the familiar landscape of our Southeastern homeland. I scribbled in my notebook all the emotions of the previous night, whose acrid smells still clung to my clothes, whose hazy light was still burned on my retinas. Musings on life, and pain, and this urgent need to gobble up all the seconds left to me. The raw output of what would become my latest installment of “Slingshots”— and one of my last.
This is what I recall most vividly about being an AG columnist: piecing together these fragments to share with some larger world, a life both joyous and lonely. Wracking my mental reserves for the perfect word, the perfect turn of phrase, trying to extract some semblance of meaning from the otherwise random spattering of chemicals and experiences constituting my fragile and terminal human existence. For better or worse, Antigravity served sometimes as my ideological platform, at other times my clearinghouse for communiques of mischief and sneaking into shows. But mostly I like to think of it as a kind of public journal for the two years I bared my soul to it. —Derek
It took the murder of a friend (local singer and legendary badass Brian “Turd” Thicksten in 2008) to get me connected to and affected by the force otherwise known as Antigravity. Local attorney Andy (Be Wiser) Bizer middle-manned the deal and put me in touch with Dan. I heard he was looking for photos for a memorial piece AG planned to run on Brian. I thought it was cool that AG would take the time (and space) to pay tribute to Brian instead of filling their pages with money making advertisements like just about every other print mag on the planet would do.
Being a skeptic, I recall thinking they would probably half ass it, piss me off, and that would be the end of our relationship. When the mag hit the street, I was happy to see I was wrong and that Antigravity immortalized Brian on the cover of that issue (Vol 6, No.2) and devoted two full pages inside the magazine with photos and memories dedicated to Brian. That’s when I knew I was working with the good guys. With that, Antigravity won my loyalty and respect, and so began our end-of-the-month, deadline pushing, fly-by-the-seat-of- our-pants relationship that continues to this day. —Gary LoVerde
I have always told Foxy Dan that he is sitting on a goldmine with Antigravity Magazine. I used to get so angry trying to tell him that he had the most important goddamn publication for young people in the city, and that he should utilize it to showcase more “current” and “cool” things. We would fight about what I thought should be on the cover (i.e., me) and what he thought should be (i.e., not me)—and by fight I mean, I would yell at him while he patiently let me finish and gave me calm rebuttals and shot me down. Over and over I see covers that I shake my head at, asking “WHY, GOD, WHY?” (remember that Special Photography AG Issue cover with Paul Webb holding a Chihuahua in front of his face? What was that? No offense, Paul. Cute dog.) Then it dawned on me, Antigravity is a perfect representation of New Orleans! It doesn’t change. It’s not aesthetically perfect. It’s years behind everywhere else. It’s not trying to be something it’s not. It’s not pretentious. It’s not even really that “cool,” but… it is. It’s New Orleans. Most of AG’s content, written by people I’ve known since high school, is about the same things I feel we were talking about in front of Molly’s on Friday nights 15 years ago. No matter how frustrated I get, I’m thankful it exists and am comforted to see it every month (and a few days late) in Stein’s, Juan’s, The Saint, etc. AG has given me numerous opportunities to write about things I think are “cool” and has come along with me through journeys worldwide, and at home: my first performance with Spank Rock at SXSW, touring Europe for almost three months with Spank and Boys Noize, the unveiling of Brice Nice and my project, Rhythm Killers productions, giving relationship/sex advice, album reviews and more… Hell, even right now I’m writing this article in Paris before I DJ tonight, and started writing it this morning in an airport in Rome. I love that over the years AG has asked me to contribute (even when sometimes I ask myself why I even said yes). It may not be a goldmine, but it’s still precious to me. —Musa Alves
Does anyone remember the infamous “ Manny Fresh” cover in December 2011? Wow, what a colossal fuckup. (His name is Mannie Fresh, fyi.) That mistake right there? Yours truly. A little backstory: it was perhaps the darkest days of Antigravity, where the crew was spread extra thin, and Leo and I were doing most of the heavy lifting at month’s end, with hardly a system in place and with no art director. I was designing a lot of the covers at the time and as I worked on that particular cover, I remember typing Mannie’s name and not really thinking about it. I was more concerned with proportion and look rather than copy details.
Naturally, deadline loomed closer and closer and a million other things had to be done, so in those frantic last hours, it went through to the final draft and escaped our fried eyeballs. It wasn’t until a few days later, as I drove a van full of issues around for distro, that I wondered to myself, is it spelled “Mannie?” Fuck. What a bad feeling that was, to know that I had not only fucked up 10,000 copies of the magazine I edited—the freaking cover at that—but it was also at the expense of one of New Orleans’ musical pioneers and a fine piece by Michael Patrick Welch (with photos by Adrienne Battistella). I wanted to fire myself. After that, we made sure to include Erin Hall and other editors in our final versions. As an editor, I’ve come to accept that mistakes will be made pretty much every issue, but that is one I never want to make again—I think it may have lost AG years of credibility (whatever we had left). But it taught me a bunch of lessons (as really each issue does), such as: always be careful of your placeholders, and editors need editing too.
It was a huge bummer of a mistake, and I had to stew on it for a month. But then a miracle happened: another month came around and it was time for a new issue and another chance. And now, like this piece itself will soon be, that mistake feels like ancient history. —Dan Fox
In the time I’ve offered my work to AG, I’ve spoken with personalities both local and not-so local, each and every interaction being memorable in their own right. My very first interview for the magazine was with Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers, who has always been a creative inspiration on a variety of levels. I admit I was slightly star-struck, which is something that never happens to me. To my delight we spoke for over an hour, revealing that he is disarmingly honest, very kind and even more hilarious than his on-stage persona indicates.
Another moment in my AG career that stands out is when I had to interview Dimitri Coats of OFF! on the phone during the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac with a cell phone low on battery and a house without power. I did the entire Q & A in the dark by candlelight, sweating like a madman all over my notes. And it turned out to be worth every uncomfortable second. —M. Bevis
I’ve always been a big fan of the Geto Boys and respected how they elevated hip-hop in the south, inspiring UGK and the chopped and screwed movement that followed. When I saw they were coming to town, I didn’t want to miss my chance to sit and chat with Willie D, Bushwick Bill, and Scarface. I figured it would be a long shot, but I went after the face to face interview instead of talking on the phone. I got in touch with the guy in charge of booking at the Howlin’ Wolf and he sent me Willie D’s manager’s contact information. The manager gave me Willie D’s cell phone number and three days later I was in the hotel lobby at the SpringHill Suites talking to all three of the Geto Boys.
The interview lasted much longer than I expected. Each member surprised the hell out of me with some of the things they said. Willie D fit the role of the hard-ass gangster from Houston, but also told me when he relaxes he like a nice glass of Merlot and a James Taylor record. Bushwick was a true intellectual, preferring to talk about Shakespeare and the literature of Abraham Lincoln before he was president, over the current rap scene. Not what I expected from the founder of horrorcore. Scarface was more interested in talking about government conspiracies, his hatred for the media, and his lovely baby daughter. After concluding the interview, Scarface hung out with me in the lobby, showing off his skills on the acoustic guitar with his rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” I didn’t understand how this was the same guy who wrote “Mind Playing Tricks on Me,” and “I Seen a Man Die.”
Right before show time, the three rappers escorted me across the street and brought me back stage. Willie D ordered me to take as many pictures as possible so he could use them to promote the tour. He told me to stay on stage for the whole performance so I could get shots of the three of them together. Antigravity gave me the badge to get to know the pioneers of southern rap. I still have Willie D in my contacts. —Robert Offner
I started contributing to Antigravity in February 2009 after sending a blind email to Leo and Dan, having photographed fewer than 10 shows while armed with just an Olympus E510 and a few kit lenses. My first published images, one of Micah McKee and one of Felix from a Silent Cinema CD release show gave me the motivation to continue photographing music. My photos have appeared in almost every issue since, and I’ve now photographed a little more than 1,000 bands. Highlights over the years have been covering Bonnaroo, the Voodoo Music Experience, BUKU, New Orleans Jazz Fest, SXSW and countless shows at One Eyed Jacks and other venues around town. I’ve seen my photographs taped up in practice spaces, used in show posters, and, most recently, a spread was framed in someone’s house as a reminder of a fight a couple had at a Lee Fields show. Since my start at Antigravity, I’ve been published in every major music publication including Rolling Stone, Spin, Pitchfork, Billboard and Paste. I credit Antigravity for giving me the experience and the access to develop my skills and successfully transition into a professional music photographer. —Josh Brasted
For years, I looked to Antigravity Magazine to keep up with all of the local underground/DIY goings-on in the city. They were (and still are) covering the void left by the surrounding caricatures of New Orleans— reporting on the news, music and art from which other publications might stray. It always felt like a platform where my creative projects might have a chance at any kind of support or relevancy. So, I continued to create. After a cover story interview (BLCKBLT) and a handful of reviews of other music I was recording and putting out, it seemed that the creative organism I had looked to for all those years was now looking back at me. At a time when I was criticized for caring too much about my creative endeavors and even told to “snap out of it,” it was incredibly validating to feel like someone was paying attention.
Then, in March of 2012, I ran into long-time friend Dan Fox at a mutual friend’s barbecue party. We had a beer- soaked conversation where he asked if I might be interested in penning a couple of articles about my pilgrimage to Bonnaroo. I just about lept at the idea! Pending subject matter aside, here was an opportunity to be a part of a community who cared about their platform as much as I cared about mine. I poured my heart into that opportunity. When I wrapped up those first two assignments, I nervously asked Dan if they were sufficient. I remember his response very clearly. He smiled and said, “I loved them. What’s your next piece?” —Kevin Comarda
One of my first favorite punk bands was Dead Kennedys. I was impressed by the composition of the music, and the subject matter quite possibly served as my introduction to politics. On top of that, who could forget their frontman’s unique voice and brash persona? Jello Biafra may very well have subconsciously inspired me to want to front a punk band from an early age. It doesn’t matter what you think about the controversy surrounding him and his former bandmates; no one can deny Biafra’s contribution to punk culture. I went to see him perform at the 12 Bar one year, and actually got to meet him. But, I couldn’t speak! I was a little tipsy, and I was just dreading the moment something cheesy or ridiculous would pop out of my mouth, so I just remained silent and soaked in the scene around me. It seemed that the less I said, the better. And I kicked myself for it afterward. Naturally, all the things I had wanted to say or ask flowed through my mind like water after we left the bar.
I started writing for Antigravity in late 2011. I’ve been fortunate enough to have conducted some pretty exciting interviews with a wide range of people. Then, earlier this year, I heard that Jello was returning to do his Raunch and Soul All-Stars show again. I jumped at the opportunity to get an interview. Well, I got it. I also got the news that Jello doesn’t do email interviews, which all of mine had been up to that point. So, my first telephone interview was going to be with one of the few musicians I’d sat next to, stammering and awestruck like a schoolgirl, just a few short years ago. Oh, the irony! I nervously worked up some questions and tested my recording setup like an OCD maniac on a three-day meth binger. When the time finally came to call him, he wasn’t ready! He asked me to call him back because he was getting ready to eat. So, I gave him as much time as he had requested, and called back. He was still eating! At this point, I started to panic. What if he’s changed his mind, and is trying to put me off? My nervousness grew exponentially as the minutes ticked away. However, on the third call, he was finally ready. Whew! So, we talked. We discussed politics, music, post-Katrina New Orleans, and more. And we talked for 57 minutes and 15 seconds! My first telephone interview was almost an hour long, and took the better part of a day to transcribe and edit. But that’s how I got over my fear of telephone interviews. And it’s also how I avenged my prior intimidation upon meeting one of my biggest punk influences. Musicians are just people like you and me, regardless of fame or stature. I’ll never forget that whole experience. —Jenn Attaway
A young lady asked me: Don’t you write for Antigravity? I did, I confessed, and she squinted at me.
Suddenly I was seventeen again, inside the “cool” video store. Each VHS case promised entree to thrilling secrets. Black-and-white new wave films, extreme horror, weirdo art flicks, European smut… all of it looked so interesting. After long deliberation, I had picked out three. They were movies I wanted to see, though I did at some level hope my selections might favorably impress the cool video store’s cool staff. When I brought the movies up to the counter, the clerk with the awe-inspiring trihawk looked at the cases, then at me. It was remarkable for this aloof, superlatively punk employee to acknowledge me at all, let alone scrutinize me at length. She was squinting at me. “I always wondered,” she said, holding up one of the movies I’d chosen, “what kind of person would actually rent this.” She made a sound between a snort and a laugh. “I guess now I know.”
That look the trihawked video clerk gave teenaged me– evaluation, judgment, disgust– was exactly, down to the diameter of the eye-narrowing, EXACTLY the look the young lady at the Bywater eatery gave me when I confirmed to her I wrote for this periodical. Thanks, Antigravity, for keeping me young. —Jules Bentley
I was living overseas as Antigravity was getting its start. I was sort of aware of it its existence because of my friendship with Dan, but had no real connection to it. That would change as a result of one of the darkest moments in my life. Still reeling from watching New Orleans drown and get ignored by monumental government failures (on Asian news networks, which discussed how little economical impact it had on their markets over images of dead bodies floating), I received an unexpected uppercut to my faith in humanity.
I was really excited because I had an email from Chris George and the subject line simply said, “Frey.” I knew I was about to get news about one of my favorite people of all time, Mike Frey. I assumed it was either going to be an epic tale of some comedic genius, details of a new short film he made with Kevin Davis or good news about a new band he had founded. I was not at all prepared for what followed, and I’m still not to this day. Chris was informing me that one of the most amazing, creative, hilarious and just generally good people I have ever met was shot and killed by a teenager down the street from the block where we had shared so many amazing times. I had never felt so alone in my life. It would have been nice to believe in fairy tales of Mike making balloon animals while drinking “brown clowns” (Mike’s cocktail invention of generic chocolate soda and cheap vodka) and playing some form of ‘90s psychedelic genre-busting music in heaven, but I found it harder than ever to believe in a god. I was depressed for weeks. Cried myself to sleep at night. Everyone was devastated. I was living thousands of miles from my friends and it felt infinitely further. But a request from Dan really helped me get out of the terrible state I was in. He wanted to run a piece in the May ‘06 issue of Antigravity celebrating Mike’s life and asked longtime friends Kevin Comarda, Nathan Bindewald, and Jack Porobil to submit stories and experiences we had shared with Mike to not only celebrate him, but to also help us all pause and appreciate the special people we all have in our lives.
This piece in Antigravity, a magazine I had not even read previously, made me feel connected to those parts again. It was that hug I needed from thousands of miles away. —Kevin Barrios
Attempting to pinpoint one moment that summarizes my Antigravity experience really gave me fits. I vacillated wildly from one thing to the next until I realized they were all variations on the same moment. You see, 18 year-old me thought I would have no problems launching a full time career as a writer/editor. Looking back, it was insanely foolish, but you know what they say about hindsight. I’ve held down a number of “day jobs” in the last eight years to pay the rent and feed my dogs. Some I’ve loved; others felt like punishment for some great cosmic failure. But all the while, I’ve had AG.
I got up and went to work every day so that I could have the luxury of writing. Every interview we’ve ever run with my byline on it was conducted in my car (seriously). Most were on lunch breaks from various jobs (though for one I had to drive to the top of a sand dune for better cell reception while on vacation with my family). I will never forget the intensely engaged hour-long conversation I had with Ted Leo. Or suppressing my inner fangirl during a chat with Shovels & Rope. Talking about the depths of depression with the lead singer of Man Man or the lifelong impact of being an outsider with Patterson Hood. I have interviewed probably 70% of my favorite musicians in my six years with AG. I have covered festivals near and far and soaked in more wonderful aural experiences than any person has a right to in their life. I find myself occasionally struck with stabbing flares of bitterness at this magazine, the media industry in general, and the universe that I can’t make ends meet just doing this––the only thing in the world that I truly love doing. But most days I just feel grateful to have the outlet and I’m not sure how I would exist outside of or apart from it. Antigravity… I hate you. I love you. I can’t live without you. —Erin Hall