Sunday, July 24, 2011

Heaven Malone - Tribe Chicago Suicide Club

Kevin Malone, known by some in the Chicago scene as "Heaven" works in an ad agency by day and DJ's by night.  He is a long-time veteran of the arts communities in the windy city.  As a kid he did the "band thing".  Later on he worked in an advertising office with Alan Morgenstern, a School of The Art Institute of Chicago.  Morgenstern had been an SAIC classmate of Mat Devine.  Devine had also worked at the same agency as an art director and with Morgenstern began creating the Chicago Suicide Club.  Malone joined them as a founder.  The club's main purpose was to promote local arts shows and performances along with providing an outlet to graphics designers who kept the merch store stocked with their t-shirt creations.

CSC was mainly a Chicago thing until they decided to experiment with opening its membership through a website.  It was the early days of social networking before it even had a name.  The group grew, especially when Kill Hannah brought invite cards out with them on tour.  If one was lucky enough to get a card, they had the special log-in information for the site.  Once in, there was the opportunity to connect with all manner of creative people.

However, the Chicago scene has taken a down-turn.  It is now about appearances and who one is seen out with rather than the quality of the art.  Kevin and I mainly talked music as that is where he spends the majority of his time when not at his day-job.  Chicago scenesters are very like their Brooklyn counterparts, hipsters.  However, where they differ, is not looking for the indie music no one else is listening too.  Chicago rock has become very cookie cutter.  When asked, locals claim that it is the "Chicago sound" and they feel a need to stick to it.

There are some clubs around the city that do encourage new sounds.  "The Empty Bottle" has built a reputation of bringing in different artists who make good music in a number of genres.  They have an established crowd who have spread the word that if you're looking for something new you will find it there and you won't leave disappointed.  There is another club that has been around a long time that gives everyone a chance no matter how good or bad.  It is actually the club where the Smashing Pumpkins got their start.  Malone says if you look around you will find smaller venues that have good booking agents and/or are willing to give new artists a chance.

Kevin also says though that as for open mics, they seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur.  He remembers driving miles with this or that band he belonged to looking for open mics.  Each time they would find one, when they went back to try again, there either was not an open mic or the club had closed completely.

So for now, Chicago Suicide Club is on a hiatus.  Mat has moved to New York and Kill Hannah has been off the radar for a while.  Add the deteoration of the Chicago scene, people just lost interest.  Heaven does maintain a Facebook presence to promote shows, including his own DJ gigs.  He keeps an eye out for what other arts groups within the city are doing to keep creativity alive and encourages them in any way he can.  He hopes that there will be a revitalization and that people will get past settling for corporate, production line music along with all other arts.

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