The John Giorno Band Record Release Celebration: Words Come From Sound

DJ Set by Matthew Higgs, Director of White Columns
Special performance featuring Brian Belott

On the occasion of “Ugo Rondinone: I ♥ John Giorno,” join us for the record release of The John Giorno Band’s “I’m Rock Hard” artist edition LP, featuring nine unreleased tracks from 1982-1989. The event will be accompanied by Janani Balasubramanian’s “iOS-A-Poem” — a participatory audio installation about disconnection, uncertainty and our changing relationship to information technology. The event will feature a dj set by Matthew Higgs, Director of White Columns.

By the end of the 70s, Giorno had expanded his sound compositions into the world of music, live performance and created his own record label called “Giorno Poetry Systems Recordings” — a platform where vinyl, video works, CD’s, tape compilations, radio broadcasting and telephones could be used as a tools to extend the boundary of poetry and literature. In 1981, when Giorno felt he had done every thing possible using the electronics available at the time, he took a hiatus from his “Sound Poems” and employed the genre of rock ‘n’ roll to form The John Giorno Band. Comprised of a rotating cast of talented musicians (Lenny Kaye on guitar, C. P. Roth on synthesizers, Paul Duggan on bass, David Donen on drums), the group was invited to perform at various punk rock venues and new wave clubs including the Pyramid, Danceteria, Mudd Club, Roxy, Irving Plaza, Palladium and CBGBs. Performing his poems in front of a crowd of night-time revelers, Giorno developed a new avenue to employ his poetic language – one that merged his spoken-word poetry slams into electrifying performances.

The double LP features nine unreleased tracks including Scum & Slime (1985); Stretching it Wider (1982); Life is a Killer (1982); Sucking Mud (1986); Exiled in Domestic Life (1983); It’s a mistake to think you’re special (1989); I gambled with my anger and lost (1983); The Strength of Pleasure (live) (1984); and Stretching it Wider (live) (1982).

Debuting in conjunction with the listening party, the public is invited to participate by way of audio headsets (and in groups ranging from 6-20 people) in Balasubramanian’s “iOS-A-Poem,” an audio installation and contemporary response to Giorno’s iconic 1968 work “Dial-A-Poem.” The piece examines how communication and technology have transformed between then and now, and how our relationships to one another have altered as a result. It poses two fundamental questions:
1) Is our communications technology augmenting or diminishing us?
2) How do we value information and art differently when they are so/too readily available?


About I’m Rock Hard (1982-1987) artist edition:
Edition of 200, artist edition double LP $120
Hand signed foreword by John Giorno

Released by Red Bull Arts New York and Vinyl Factory, 2017
Available online at The Gift Shop

Artists: John Giorno and Janani Balasubramanian

The John Giorno Band, image courtesy Kate Simon 2017.

The John Giorno Band at CBGB’s, December 1986
Photograph: Copyrght Kate Simon, 2017