For most of the 2000s Chris Gunn played guitar in the Hunches a legendarily reckless Portland band that mixed the piss and vinegar of punk with ragged rock and roll. After 2009’s chaotic but brilliant album, Exit Dreams, the band called it a day and Gunn ended up in San Francisco playing with violent garage band the Hospitals.
Now back in Portland with his brother Lucas and friends Scott Simmons and Ben Spencer, Gunn has started a new band Lavender Flu. Their debut album Heavy Air, is a double LP of psych, busted folk, pop nuggets and fuzz. Recorded on analog tape over a number of years, the 30-tracks sound like something Royal Trux would have presented after stumbling from an outback Oregon cabin. It also brings to mind the best of the Meat Puppets, Big Star and the Skygreen Leopards.
A video of their cover of early Georgia garage band Bo & The Weevils “My Time” includes old family VHS video and footage of the band hanging out, performing and hamming it up.
The video was shot patiently by Alex Morris, who according to Gunn “put up with a lot of nonsense including cameras in the rain, and wet scarecrow dolls in his van”.
Check it below and read a short interview with Chris.
Noisey: I like the opening shot of the overgrown grass on the tracks. Where was it filmed?
Chris Gunn: That was in the industrial district of Portland down near the warehouse where I work. I walk through those weeds all the time on my way to my soul-sucking job. I love those plants. Every spring they come busting out of the railroad tracks all neon green and six feet high. They are like a giant fuck you to all the concrete and steel around them.
I'm fascinated about the stroller that’s dragged from the water. How did it end up there?
Yeah I'm fascinated about that stroller too. Your guess is as good as mine as to how or why it got there. It’s a mystery. If you watch the video closely you will see a dog swimming in the water towards the camera at one point.
Whose home videos are those?
Those are old home videos of my family. My dad shot most of them. Both my grandparents are in there briefly and you get to see the area in Wilbur, Oregon where my mom grew up and shots of the house that my dad built where my brother, Luc, and I grew up. We wanted to get at this idea of reconstructed memories and thought it would be cool to have a video that travels all over time. We acted out that old footage in certain scenes of the video partly as a way to visually simulate a reconstructed memory or the futility of chasing the past. It's interesting and very in line with the themes of Heavy Air to think about people having memories planted by watching old videos of themselves that they really have no recollection of.
The cassette tapes sound interesting, “Roland Hungover Guitar”, “Baby Needs Attention”, “Oh Oregon” and “Dishwasher/Open Curtain”.
Those are all the four-track tapes recorded during the Lavender Flu recording sessions between 2009 and 2014. “Oh Oregon” is a beautiful song written by the Hunches singer Hart Gledhill that will come out some day. “Dishwasher/Open Curtain” is a recording of the dishwasher and a curtain opening with my brother playing piano backwards over it.
This first double LP pieces together the songs that fit together thematically from hundreds of song snippets. A map emerged from this process that we followed and it tells a nice story that helps me understand some weird shit that happened to me. It is a communication between the conscious and unconscious or the waking and the sleeping. Between my true self and my mirage self. Music helps you see the real world.
‘Heavy Air’ is available now from MEDS records.