Cut them some slack
Sacto’s the Actionists heave their sound forward
Sacramento, CA 95814
Vomit, scat, genitals—the Viennese Actionist movement of the ’60s and ’70s was known for utilizing the vile and subversive in their art.
Sacramento’s the Actionists, though, are a different beast. The threesome—consisting of local indie-scene stalwarts, including guitarist and vocalist Sean Hayashi, percussionist Sam Coe and bassist Ben Edrington—make dark, moody, beautifully ambling songs, such as “Rats in the Baby Grand,” which is featured on the Thread Productions’ Dragon Slayers Vol. III compilation. Despite the name, the band has been inching toward releasing a five-track EP online in mid-February. Already tracked, they’ll be heading into The Hangar to mix it in early January.
Why did you choose to name yourselves the Actionists?
Sam Coe: I don’t think it has anything to do with what kind of art that we’re doing in particular. If you happen to YouTube any of [the Actionism] short films, depending on the type person you are, you may be enthralled or totally disgusted.
Coe: I’ll explain one. A man is sitting at a table. He’s in a suit and tie. There’s a meal in front of him and a bottle of wine. He starts drinking the bottle of wine, then vomits on his food, then drinks a little more wine, and begins to vomit more. Then he gets to play with the vomit. He gets to wipe the vomit all over himself and drinks more wine,
Sean Hayashi: And doesn’t he eat the vomit, too?
Coe: And then, yeah, playing with the vomit, eating the vomit and vomiting. And I don’t know what happened in the end. [Editor’s note: There was no food on the table, and it ends with the man slathering the vomitus on his penis, urinating in the vomit, then snuggling on the table of puke and pee and, finally, licking it up.]
I came across them when I was in London at the Tate Modern, and I saw one of the artists’ paintings. It wasn’t a very astounding painting or anything, but I just thought the term “actionists” was kind of cool. I told Sean about it, and a few months later, he caved in. … Sean wanted to call us Black Barbie.
Do you feel pressure to not be slackers if you’re calling yourselves the Actionists?
Coe: Lately, we’ve been calling ourselves the Inactionists. (Laughs.) Because we are slackers. I think it’s just kind of in our nature.
Hayashi: Yeah, you can’t force it, you know?
Coe: Some people are just go-getters and they get everything done quickly and are on top of it, and me and Sean don’t really fall into that category.
Could you call yourselves the Slacktionists?
Coe: Not today.
Hayashi: No, we’ve been proactive today. Although I have been trying my best to derail these guys to drink beer.
Coe: I don’t know how important it is these days to have a 10-song album. As far as distributing it these days, I wonder how much albums are important. We’ve talked about releasing four or five songs every six months, or something like that.
Hayashi: That way we can appear to be taking action more often.
Ben Edrington: It’s all a “fa-kade.”
Ben was added to the lineup earlier this year. Did you guys think you weren’t good enough without him?
Hayashi: Actually, I have embarrassing pictures of him with all these different mascot costumes on …
Edrington: There’s nothing I could do. I was bent over a barrel, pretty much.
Does it have anything to do with the animal-head masks you have in your studio?
Hayashi: No, I’m totally joking. I was pretending that I had blackmailed him into joining the band with revealing photos of him doing something terrible.
People do that. They’re called furries. They have huge conventions.
Hayashi: Does furry blackmail happen? I’ve never heard that as a reason to join a band before.