My Life with the Detroit Techno Militia
by Denis Baldwin

In a self-described battle for the soul of the music, a band of Detroit-based operatives spin record after record, rapid-firing their sounds through Detroit clubs. These soldiers all have one thing in common: a love of pounding, pounding techno music. They play the kind of techno (and electro... and jungle... and other offshoots of electronic music) that you won’t be hearing on local radio. Their music fuses elements of funk, new wave and punk, and every night is a nod to the grandfathers of local electronica; they collectively cite Jeff Mills, Mike Banks and several others as inspiration. Keeping it strong on the home front, this inspiration has them taking over after-party duty for this year’s Fuse-In Detroit, the electronic music festival in Hart Plaza. They’re sometimes hailed as the last wave of Detroit Techno, but maybe, just maybe, they will turn out to be, in fact, the new wave.

As the stronghold of the Motor City becomes more fortified, the forces of DTM are growing strong and wide. The “Dirty South” division sets up club dates and appearances in the Carolinas and other southern states. “Recon:313”, the International Branch, Neil V. (NYC), Loner9 (N.C.) and Der Mercenary (Belguim), takes no prisoners in their conquest of the eastern seaboard and Europe. Downloads come down everyday to over 50 countries.

This war they are fighting is a constant battle. There’s no letting up. There’s no stopping. Of the six local soldiers, not more than one at a time gets to relax. Every night, there’s a different club. Every night, there’s a slightly different sound. Every night, there’s a different crowd. Even the regulars bring new recruits most every week.
It all starts pretty normally one night. I’ll be driving down Woodward when I get a phone call from one of the soldiers (or their allies). “We’ll be at Corktown Tavern tonight... and then over to Tavern by the Park...” One soldier plays a lone hard techno set in Corktown.

Two more tagteam at another bar. One solder is at home mastering a new song that will be available for download hours later on the DTM website. One soldier flyers a party they are doing the next night.

I find myself parked at Corktown Tavern an hour later. Before I even get out of my car, I can hear the distinct sound of T.Linder. While spinning Detroit Techno is his forte, I can be both surprised and impressed by his performances that mix in elements not heard in other’s sets, like, for instance, two copies of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.” When you hear it, you recognize it instantly. Then, the a few well-placed movements of hands to wax creates an entirely different sound. If ever there was a guy who could scratch his way through a classic rock record, it’d be T. Linder.

When Linder sees me, he switches place with DJ Darkcube to shake my hand. Linder fades into the crowd to meet with others while Darkcube lays down a heavy jungle set. If hard beats, baseline repeats and harrowing feats of turntablism are your style, Darkcube lays down track after track of seamless aural assault. Featured in the April ‘05 issue of Urb magazine, Darkcube has been gaining notoriety nationally for both his skills on the decks and his albums, Brass Knuckle Economy and Zip Gun Politics.

After a half an hour making my rounds at Corktown, I found myself back in my car headed to Tavern By the Park, home of the up-and-coming Peacock Lounge. When I arrive, I see Annix, another of their soldiers, is spinning what sounds like a punk rock record into a deep acid record. As with everything the soldiers do, it’s simple yet sophisticated.
I see Andy Hegler and Dan Lucas behind the DJ booth as well, sifting through crates of records. As Annix takes his break to come talk with me, Andy and Dan come to the decks and continue their musical odyssey. Their sound tonight is one of tribute to the dance-house and electro of the mid ‘90s. It makes remarkably listenable background to my Ketel One-powered meet-and-greet.

While the headlining soldiers continue fighting the good fight on the club circuit, the others are at home, in the studio or otherwise marching on. Tres Lucitte continues recording for his new album and playing Lansing radio station 88.9. Angie Schwendemann continues pumping out new content for the website (www.detroittechnomilitia.com). Sister-company Focus Media (and it’s head technologist, Doc) prepares for its NoiseTank (loves you) release party [see review, below]. Every one of them works non-stop to keep their agenda rolling forward on the steel treads of a solid marketing plan, name recognition and loud, danceable, intelligent DJ sets. When I started this article, I questioned what “soul” they battled for. Now, I’m quite sure of it. The soul is, as T.Linder put so elegantly, a “sincere, visceral and passionate expression of human emotion.” If nothing else, I admire their dedication. A2P

 

COLUMNS
Deep Background
The conundrums of calling Michigan home, by Drew Franklin
Girl on Love Friends. How many of us have them? by Anonymous

BOOKS
reviews

Niice Big American Baby by Judith Budnitz, reviewed by Steven Gillis

Preview the work of the four writers on the First Fiction tour by Laura J. Williams

MUSIC
Interviews
The Hard Lessons
It ain't easy being the Hard Lessons. By Jason Gibner
W anda Jackson
The Queen of Rockabilly rolls into Michigan. By Laura J. Williams
Fred Thomas
The hero of the Tuesday series of local CDs. By Scott Sellwood
Kelli Hicks A singer/songwriter with sad, dreamlike work. By Davy Rothbart
Detroit Techno Militia DTM is all around. By Denis Baldwin

MUSIC - Reviews
ADULT. D.U.M.E.
Noisetank (loves you)
, Glee, Ad Nauseum, and how It All Works Out


PLUS:

CHOICE A2P's selected events of the month
PublicEye You Belong to the City. You Belong to the Night
A2 Astrology