Robert Poss clarifies the issue of Glenn Branca and the Band of Susans (as of late 1997):
There's been a lot of erroneous stuff printed about some supposed connection between Glenn Branca and Band Of Susans (as recently as one of Everett True's 1993 Melody Maker pieces) so thanks for the opportunity to set the record straight (for the two or three of you vaguely interested in the subject). None of the founding or current members of B.O.S. has ever worked with or been directly influenced by Glenn Branca. We were on the same label with him when he was on Blast First, and we've certainly been aware of his career, though I must confess that until recently, I had spent very little time listening to his music. I actually didn't meet Glenn until 1995 or 1996. He's an interesting, funny guy, and I realized only after meeting him that I had harbored a number of misconceptions about him and his music.
One of the reasons that "everyone" in New York City seems to have played with Branca is that for many years he ran advertisements in the Village Voice seeking guitarists, and he actually paid them and they actually toured in cool places -- very unusual in this scene. (Some time after joining Band Of Susans, Helmet's Page Hamilton answered one of those Voice ads and for a time was starting to rehearse with Glenn and touring/recording with us.) This is not to deny that Branca was a major influence on lots of people other than B.O.S. and that a number of luminaries (Sonic Youth-related and otherwise) have worked with him.
B.O.S. bassist Susan Stenger and I have known and worked with the other major figure of the late 1970's/early 1980's New York guitar music scene, Rhys Chatham. I've played in Rhys' guitar ensemble on and off since 1984, and at various times, Susan, and various other members of B.O.S. -- Mark Lonergan, Karen Haglof, Ron Spitzer -- have also played his music. (Honorary Susan, Susan Springfield, was in Rhys' ensemble when I joined; Live Skull's Tom Paine and James Lo had recently left, I believe.) Susan, Karen and I toured in Germany with Rhys in 1987 and Karen and I played on Rhys' "Die Donnergotter" [The Thundergods] record which was released originally on Dossier and, I'm proud to say that I was able to play some tiny role in helping hook Rhys up with Gerard Cosloy so that the record could be released on Homestead here in the U.S. The reason I'm dwelling on Rhys so much is that although the two composers are quite distinct in their respective compositional styles, they both started out more or less together and each more or less invented a certain musical approach. It is certainly a mistake, though, to think that most or all of New York fringe/ avant garde/ experimental/ indie guitar rock somehow sprang from the Branca godhead, as some people believe. Rhys and Glenn certainly each have their fans and partisans; Branca is certainly much better known, and has had a much higher degree of visibility over the years.
In terms of B.O.S., Rhys (who now lives in Paris) has always been more of an inspiration (as opposed to an influence), since he works with extremely clean guitars (i.e. no distortion or processing), often uses as many as six (or lately, 100) guitarists in his pieces, and generally composes/scores his music in a traditional/classical manner. He also has very little interest/ background in blues/ rock/ popular music, etc. Both Glenn's and Rhys' records and concerts are definitely worth checking out, though in Rhys' case at least, the records (in my opinion) never quite captured the beauty, grandeur, power, and brilliance of his best music as seen/heard live.
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