By Cory Sklar
By Alee Karim
By Christina Li
By Dave Pehling
By Ian S. Port
By SF Weekly
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
Chasny's musical journey from garage noise to trip folk began with a Nick Drake box set his dad brought home one day. From one listen to the British folkie's sad music, young Chasny was hooked; soon he felt compelled to investigate other guitarists he'd ignored in the past. "Suddenly stuff like Leo Kottke and John Fahey made more sense -- especially Kottke. The record My Feet Are Smiling-- his early live record -- is just fucking phenomenal. He was definitely the one who told me to just go, just drink coffee, and rip into it, and if it sounds like noise, that's fine." Chasny's influences extend outside the folk realm as well. Both Plague Lounge and his later group, Tonal Shrine, were a result of his love for the unhinged sonic overload of Japanese cacophony-mongers like Mainliner and Fushitsusha, and "stuff that doesn't give a fuck." Tonal Shrine disbanded after a 1999 Halloween show at Kimo's on Polk Street, when the other members became fed up with Chasny's chronic equipment meltdown: "Every time we played, my guitar would just die, or the pedals would die."
The admittedly anti-tech Chasny still plays the acoustic he was given on his 16th birthday, despite its less-than-perfect intonation. He also has a 12-string acoustic and an electric. He'll tell you they're all Fenders, but that's about all the detail he'll readily provide. "I purposely don't know anything about guitars; I don't care. When somebody asks what kind of guitar I play, I say, "A crappy guitar.' And a lot of my tunings, only very recently have I tried to figure out what the actual notes are. I just start fooling around until I get a sound for a particular song that I want, and then I just start recording. Which makes it really difficult to play the song over again; I have to go back to the recording and try to figure out how it was tuned. It's total exploration, it's a lot of fun, and you don't really know what exactly it's going to sound like."
Chasny has no shortage of plans for Six Organs of Admittance. In February, he's flying to Portugal to open for Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo. He's got two recording projects going simultaneously and some unusual collaborations lined up, including one with a dour German artist who records under the nom de doom the Black Vial. He's hoping to rerelease some of his more unavailable material, like that lathe-cut edition of 50 he handed out to friends. There should be more live performances on the horizon, including a 10-person assemblage at a KFJC-sponsored festival next summer. Chasny's even thinking of moving his base of operations to someplace like Oakland. In the meantime, he'll continue to toil in the relative obscurity of Eureka. "What's funny is that I have so many friends who are in bands around here, and I go and I see their bands and hang out and party with everybody, and I appreciate what they do. I just don't think they really get what I'm doing. It gets a little frustrating every once in a while. But my mischievous side finds it kind of funny to tour the East Coast, then come back and not have a single person ask you about it."
Sample of Six Organs of Admittance's "Hollow Light Severed Sun," from the CD Dust & Chimes. Click the "play" icon in the control console below.