So many individuals defined the original Punk scene, and one of said people who doesn’t always get the credit he deserves is Ivan Julian. Julian has returned with his latest solo album, Swing Your Lanterns, which he has just about finished up and plans to release later in 2023 via Pravda Records.
Between writing, recording, and producing, Julian handled mostly all duties, including production, and recording it to 2″ tape at his Brooklyn studio, SuperGiraffeSound, while some parts were also recorded at Raxtrax Studio in Chicago. The songs themselves on the record reflect his experiences over the last few years of his life and career while also not ignoring the important sociopolitical questions of the times in which we live. Amongst these questions is where do you stand during troubled times? Or will you remain vigilant?
Known as a founding member of Richard Hell & The Voidoids, a pioneering Punk rock band, Julian is highly regarded for his early contributions to the genre. After this, he became the frontman for The Outsets and then moved on to The Lovelies, a group he formed with Bush Tetras singer Cynthia Sley. In recent years, Julian has been more focused on being a studio musician and producer but also found time to release his debut solo record, The Naked Flame, in 2011. This has been a very productive career that has so many more miles along the way.
Sweeping the topic of music aside for a few moments, we spoke to Julian for our latest Fahrenheit V13, in which we discussed important books from his youth, favourite authors, the series he feels is owed a film adaptation and more.
What was the most memorable book from your childhood?
Ivan Julian: “It was a 300-plus page biography about Beethoven. I was 8 years old and can’t say that I finished it or understood half the words in the book, but I do remember the story of how his stomach hurt, but he kept on writing music. That made an impression on me.”
What is the book that has made the most impact on you as a person?
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X. It’s about growth, rebirth, self-definition, and redemption.”
Who are your favourite writers?
“Ovid, Charles Bukowski, F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby. His other books don’t seem to reach the same high pitch.), Robert Louis Steveson. Short Stories. Gore Vidal, Oscar Wilde.”
Which book series do you think deserves a proper screen adaptation? Who would you want to play the main characters? Which artists would do the soundtracks?
“Gangs of New York. I have the original printing, and I couldn’t believe when Hollywood adapted this amazing chronicle of history as some sort of Broadway Musical. Yikes! No idea real for the lead actors. Maybe Tom Waits as Boss Tweed. If he were alive, Béla Bartok could score it.”
What book have you been meaning to read? How long have you been meaning to do that?
“Moby Dick. A long time.”
How many books do you own? Any titles or editions you’re particularly fond of?
“A lot. A book that I found on the street called Veerapan – India’s Most Wanted Man by Sunaad Raghuram. An incredible true story. Conquest of the Useless by Werner Herzog. 1421 by Gavin Menzies. Tells how the Chinese circumnavigated the globe some 70 years before the Europeans. Renaissance, anyone?”
Are there any particular editions or collections of books you’d be excited to collect and own?
“Charles Bukowski. Signed first editions of his novels and short stories.”
What book do you enjoy that no one else seems to?
“His Way by Kitty Kelly. Technical manuals.”
How often do you find or make time to read? Are you paperback, hardcover, or eBook?
“It depends on my schedule. Never eBooks. I love the tactile pornography of the words on a printed page.”
What’s your most controversial opinion on books and literature?
“F. Scott Fitzgerald only wrote one great book, The Great Gatsby. The rest are garbage.”
Graphic novels and comics have enjoyed mainstream crossover thanks in no small part to the cinematic universes of Marvel and DC. Do you enjoy graphic novels or comics? Any particular titles that stand out as favourites?
“I’ve never been a big comic fan, but R. Crumb gave me a new understanding of life. I especially like his character, Wonder Wart Hog.”
Have you read any musical biographies? If so, any favourites?
“I read as many as I can get my hands on because generally, they define who we are as musicians. My favourites: Moanin’ at Midnight (The Life and Times of Howlin’ Wolf), Dylan by Anthony Scaduto, Exile on Main Street by Robert Greenfield, Jimi Hendrix, (Electric Gypsy) Chuck Berry: The Autobiography, to name a few.”
What’s the longest book you’ve ever read? Did you enjoy it despite its length?
“Audio Cyclopedia by Tremain.”