Sunday, April 30, 2006

May 1, 2006: Silica-Gel

May 1, 2006: Silica-Gel

Episode 89 is on the way...

The Q&A this week is with Michael Pilmer of the band Silica-Gel... (In the first photo: Michael Pilmer on the left/Chris Tector on the right).

The last time I saw Michael, was at Creative Electric Studios in Minneapolis. He's been coordinating a traveling exhibition by Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo) for a couple of years now, and I went by to see the show ("Beautiful Mutants") and say hello to the guy who's CD's have been getting played since the very beginning of Some Assembly Required. In fact, the very first complaining phone call I ever got was about Silica-Gel's "Sex with a woman," which is actually not even all that offensive, but the whole episode had been focused on love and/or sex, and by the time Silica-Gel had repeated the phrase "have sex with a woman" about a dozen times, I had to convince my very first irate caller that this was just a theme we were doing that week, and that the focus of the show would not always be so "controversial" - at least not in that particular way...

Pilmer had some work in the Festival of Appropriation one year (2002), along with Mark Gunderson (the Evolution Control Committee). We put it on at the Rogue Buddha Gallery that year. I wanted to do a section on public art installation, and Gunderson had told me about this project he used to do, where he'd paint messages on old shoes, and then bolt them to signs in public places. Michael had told me about his sticker project - the Implied Regurgitation project - which involved taking little word balloon stickers, which say "I threw up," and leaving them on bus posters and advertising, anywhere and everywhere. So, I invited him to send along a bunch of the stickers, and using magazine ads, I created a section for his project, right alongside the shoe project. It was one of my favorite parts of the show that year. Here's a close-up of some of the pictures from the Implied Regurgitation section of the show...

I probably ordered Silica-Gel's only studio release, "50) Noisy Children Party" from Seeland, around 1997 or so. I can't remember. It was co-released by Seeland and Wifflefist. Wifflefist is, or was, a loose collective of artists/musicians from North Carolina. Most of the numerous CDs which resulted are still available for purchase via their website. Of the two additional Silica-Gel CDs available there, I have one: "Do Not Eat: The Unreleased Collection '93 - '97." The title must have something to do with the name of the band... Silica-Gel took their name from those little packets of desiccant - "known for its drying efficiency and water vapor capacity," (according to a website I just found online), which will often warn you: Do Not Eat. Pilmer included a scan of the original packet of Silica-Gel which inspired the band to use the name - so here's a bit of history for you...

Awesome. So here we go - the SAR Q&A with Michael Pilmer, of Silica-Gel...


*Name: Silica-Gel

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: Silica-Gel is the band. Wifflefist was the name of the collective of folks we worked with in NC. Silica-Gel was a stand-alone band, but Wifflefist included other projects like Krapper Keeper, Banana Twins, Repetophile, BeatleSS, Polycarp, and others.

*Members: Michael Pilmer, Chris Tector

*Founding Members: Michael Pilmer, Chris Tector, Jeff Gosztyla (early member who was only with the band for a few months). There were originally 3 members of the band, but Silica-Gel was a duo for most of it's life.

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: I guess Silica-Gel was a mixture of all three. We liked experimenting with sound, no matter what it's source or means of construction. We were particularly opposed to standard vocals/lyrics tracks, for whatever reason.

*Another genre descriptor: Never came up with something nifty like that to describe our noise.

*Is there a story behind your name: Chris Tector and I were heavily into Skinny Puppy and Severed Heads in the mid/late 80's. I acquired a packet of Silica-Gel (the little bags of desiccant which are used inside new product boxes to keep the immediate environment dry), and I was attracted by the "Silica-Gel" logo on the bag...and thought it would make a great name/logo for a noise band. Somehow it seemed like a "Skinny Puppy/Severed Heads" kind of name. Maybe because it started with an "S"?? LOL. I've still got the original packet of Silica-Gel, which I scanned and attached to this email as a jpeg file.

*Location: We started Silica-Gel in Raleigh, NC...where we both attended NC State University. We met at NC State a few years before we started the band.

*Original Location: I'm originally from Ohio.

*What is your creative/artistic background: I've always been drawing & creating artwork in many ways. I remember really getting into illustrating back in the mid 70's when I was 8 years old. Started out drawing lots of pictures of KISS/Gene Simmons. Later I moved onto drawing robots, Kraftwerk, DEVO, Dungeons & Dragons characters (although I couldn't stand playing the game). Most of my childhood art projects were fueled by a constant stream of rock music oozing from my SoundDesign home stereo. The next phase of art for me was sticker graffiti in the early 1980's, then standard spray-paint graffiti art in the mid to late 1980's. I was in a few bands spanning from 1985 until the early 2000's, including these bands: Rabid Salesmen, Silica-Gel, Krapper Keeper, THOR & The Ass Boys, and a few others. A friend and I created some noisy drum & bass noise in the mid/late 1990's under the name "Motor Tic Posse". In the mid 1990's, a friend and I started the Implied Regurgitation sticker campaign, which is still going strong today: I think that covers most of the art/music I've been involved with.

*History: Silica-Gel disbanded in the late 1990's, and started in 1993.

*Born: I was born on Dec. 11th, 1967 in Stow, Ohio. (near Akron). Not sure about Chris Tector or Jeff G.

*Motivations: I loved making noise and playing with sounds, and the collage aspect of Silica-Gel music really appealed to me.

*Philosophy: Play with sound. We would always say that one way to a great sound is to "sample it, slow it down, f*** with it".

*How would you like to be remembered: As far as Silica-Gel goes - as some guys from NC who made some interesting and entertaining noise.

*Web address: Silica-Gel doesn't have one yet, but you can find a little info here: (hasn't been updated in ages, though). Feel free to contact me directly: Someday there will be a Silica-Gel web site. I've got tons of stuff to share - images from shows, flyers, and stories about how the songs were created, and the specific sounds that were used.

Nothing to do with Silica-Gel, but it's my most recent art project:


Thanks to Michael Pilmer of Silica-Gel, for being the subject of this week's SAR Q&A! And speaking of seeing him at Creative Electric Studios... I completely forgot to mention, last week (when posting the SAR Q&A with Mark Hosler of Negativland) that Some Assembly Required is a proud sponsor of Creative Electric's next exhibition, titled: "Negativlandland." The show opens on Friday, May 12 - so if you're in the Twin Cities, or nearby, come on down to see some visual (and aural, of course) art by Negativland. Doors are at 6:30pm, and the gallery is located at: 2201 NE 2nd Street, in Northeast Minneapolis. For questions, call the gallery at:612 706 7879, or visit their website, at:

Stay tuned for Episode 89, featuring over 107 tracks! Yes, one hundred and seven tracks... There were a couple of shows previously where I'd tried to see how many short tracks I could play in one episode, but this time I beat every previous record. 107 very short tracks by sound collage artists across all genres - including three tracks by Silica-Gel. On the way...

Thanks for listening!
Jon Nelson


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