Pere Ubu
Why I Hate Women

Produced by David Thomas.

Smog Veil SV59CD (US) 9/19/06 cd.
Distributed in New Zealand by Yellow Eye Distribution

Order from Ubutique.

Why I Hate Women Links

Why I Remix WomenFAQHyper-naturalismIrony

Why I Hate Women Press Release

Pere Ubu have come out fighting with 'Why I Hate Women,' racing towards all horizons at full tilt, pushing the experimental envelope, but also tightening up their trademark avant-punk attack.

If St Arkansas saw them rooting around furtively in rock's darkest, dankest corners, with 'Why I Hate Women,' Ubu seem to illuminate those secret spaces with firework displays and thousand-watt searchlights.

The rhythm section (Ubu's longest serving) of bassist Michele Temple and drummer Steve Mehlman is tauter and leaner than ever before. Robert Wheeler's bravura performance on vintage electronics has him coming over as rural Ohio's answer to Sun Ra, splattering analogue synth and theremin with wild, visionary abandon. Guitarist (and newest recruit) Keith Molinè veers between wayward sonic expressionism and disciplined garage thrust.

At the eye of the storm is singer David Thomas, a true rock maverick at the height of his powers. His vocal approach shows a startling new melodicism, a plaintive purity of expression that cuts through his familiar repertoire of radical voicings and techniques. Lyrically, he manages to balance stormy obsessiveness with flashes of playful wit, refracting standard rock themes (love and obsession) through the looking glass of his boundless imagination.

'Why I Hate Women' is a spacious, immediate and vibrant document. The thunderously exciting 'Caroleen' and 'Flames Over Nebraska' spotlight some smart, sardonic riffing, while 'Texas Overture' is a joyous, addictive lope. '2 Girls (One Bar)' and 'Mona' are wired, edgy and jagged. 'Babylonian Warehouses' and 'Love Song' are beautiful epics of torment and yearning. There's also more improvised work than usual; 'Blue Velvet,' 'Synth Farm' and 'Stolen Cadillac' are stunningly focused studio jams, the latter featuring Wheeler and Molinè weaving unearthly drones around Temple's beautifully measured bass figure. Temple also contributes a lead vocal to the haunted vignette 'My Boyfriend's Back.' And of course there's Thomas's incredibly distinctive production style to savour, a kind of hyper-naturalism (see footnote below) that cloaks each sound - Mehlman's mesmerising drums in particular - in dark, spectral electricity.

A companion album of radical reinterpretations of the songs by members of the band is released Oct 6 2006 as a mail order and concert merchandise sales only cd. It's called Why I Remix Women.

What does the title 'Why I Hate Women' mean?

David replies, "Why I Hate Women is based on the Jim Thompson novel that he never wrote but might have. As you're reading, Bruce Springsteen's 'Nebraska' is playing. Your woman pads into the room, naked, and sits down beside you because she wants to be near. That's what it's about."

Robert adds, "Didn't you notice that they are all love songs?"

Why I Hate Women Production Notes

Produced by David Thomas
Engineered by Paul Hamann at Suma, Painesville OH.
Thanks to Dids for input.
Package design by John Thompson and Mimi Thompson, www.idrome.net.
Portions recorded at Homer Page Farm, Harvest Moon, The Red Roof in Willoughby OH (Room 143) and The Farm (Utica PA) at various times in 2005, principally in October-November. Mix finished in March 2006.

All songs written by Pere Ubu and ©2006 Ubu Projex.

Pere Ubu Instrumentation

David Thomas - vocals
Keith Molinè - guitar, backing vocals, bass
Robert Wheeler - EML synthesizer, theremin
Michele Temple - bass, lead vocal
Steve Mehlman - drums, clave, wood block
Rodolphe Burger plays stylophone on Texas Overture.
Robert Kidney plays lead guitar on Love Song.
Jack Kidney plays harp on Blue Velvet and tenor sax on Synth Farm.
Andy Diagram plays trumpet on Mona.

Why I Hate Women Release History


David Thomas notes:
I don't willingly use eq in the mix stage, and as little as possible in the tracking phase. You can add or subtract 15db anywhere across the frequency range and it cannot / does not / will not affect the essential nature of the sound. I noticed this very early on in my career but it took decades to understand the significance. I don't believe in torturing sound waves for convenience sake. (I know Paul fiddles a bit with eq for technical reasons but he has the good graces to do it while I am out of the room.) Over the years Paul Hamann has invented and built a number of specialized "junk-o-phones" for my use, microphone "substitutes." These junk-o-phones are most often speakers of various sorts. The technologies of a speaker and a microphone are close enough to be considered identical, requiring only a little electronic tweaking and load-balancing to turn one into the other.

About 13 years ago I realized that I was, essentially, tone-deaf, and always had been. This was an epiphany. It dawned on me that I didn't hear sound like others hear. How was I to know?!? You assume you hear or see or sense like everybody else does. Why wouldn't you think that? I'd certainly had a reasonably successful career spanning decades as a significant musician. I started to experiment on myself and soon reached the conclusion that if I listen to two radically different frequencies sounding in an acoustically sterile space I simply cannot identify which one is a higher or lower frequency than the other. They sound the same. But if these two frequencies are sounding in real space, a room, an environment, with idiosyncratic acoustic features then those sounds take on a complexity and personality and are clearly identifiable not just as frequencies but as shapes and geometries laden with meaning. I began to suspect that I was synaesthetic, which is a theoretical condition in which the senses of certain individuals are "scrambled." Color is sensed as a taste. Sound is sensed as a visual. I soon realized that sound, for me, was a geometrical function. I sensed it through shape, space and perspective. I could "see" it and that by "seeing" it certain kinds of meaning, significant relationships, were revealed to me.

The "masonic" secret of the audio craft, what I call the Edison Principle, can be stated simply: The Way In is the Way Out. These junk-o-phones have names like The Box, The Fly's Eye, The Horn, The West, The 15, The 18, The Phone, and The Fan. The Box and The Fly's Eye are the most effective and most often used. Other less successful models have come and gone. Paul also worked up a way to use flat surfaces, like doors and windows, to act as microphones. These junk-o-phones are designed to capture the sound of an instrument or voice in a limited or idosyncratic way. I record most instruments with many different junk-o-phones. I use traditional microphones, usually, only for room / ambience recording. Typically, the drums will be recorded with 20 or more inputs though rarely do I use more than 4 - 8 of them for any one song. If I feel that an instrument in the mix stage needs to sound differently I alter the mix balance of the junk-o-phone tracks. Transience makes me nervous so I like there to be gaps in the transience, the "space" between notes. Junk-o-phones are especially useful for this. I don't like using 'store-bought' audio effects. On Why I Hate Women I think I used only one such unit, a Lexicon on a minor backing vocal part - mainly cuz we were in a hurry and it was a small part. Otherwise all effects are from spatial acoustics, spring reverbs from an old Hammond B-3, Altec passive filters, the junk-o-phones and sometimes Suma's echo plate - again, most often when we're in a hurry, otherwise I simply broadcast the track into a room or space that will give me the reverb I want and re-record it. I like sounds to have plenty of spikes. If I use compression at all I only use it full on, hard-crunching, and unsubtle. If you dare to mess with sound then beat it into a bloody pulp, don't toy with it. But do it at peril to your mortal soul. Be convinced. Otherwise, don't torture the poor creature.

Irony and Narrative

David Thomas writes:
My work on an album begins as a sound I hear in my head. This sound partly anticipates the evolutionary path of the band according to my understanding of the musicians involved and it partly reflects my personal hopes for my own work. I construct or intuit a back story to that sonic framework. This back story is more or less detailed and is peopled with characters. Sometimes elements of this back story appear in lyrics. Not always. The purpose of the album then becomes to capture a specific psychological moment from the backstory. The 10-11 songs on an album become the dots on a pointillist canvas which serves to capture that moment. Finally there is the album title. This is the last chance to shape the envelope of that moment.

As I have stated elsewhere the back story for this album was the Jim Thompson novel he never wrote. The title came to me as I was sitting in my local during what we call the Dysfunctional Hour. Some pubs have Happy Hour. The Nep has Dysfunctional Hour. The title seemed to me to be the perfect Jim Thompson title. Knowing what would lay ahead I was not happy. Weeks went by as I searched in vain for an alternative. I was then determined to construct the album package in such a way that the consumer would have no easy outs, no pat answers. John Thompson did a great job, as did Kathy, his wife, whose self-portrait is the cover image, and their daughter Mimi whose handiwork is the centerfold image. At the end of this process John noted that there still remained the Irony Card. We agreed that there was no way around this, which is, of course, why the Irony Card is so beloved by those who can stomach it. It allows for a Mobius Strip of denial. Pere Ubu does not dabble in irony - it is the last refuge of the weak-willed and cowardly. We are no cowards. So I instructed John to insert "This is an irony-free recording." I have two regrets: (1) that we did not design a logo and add a trademark symbol for "irony-free" as if it were a product line (thanks to Keith for this idea); and (2) that I did not instruct John to add, "We really mean it!" But of course then we would have had to add, "No, really, we mean it." And then on and on and on... (Iron-ists can never allow themselves even a momentary glance at reality.)

Why I Hate Women Songs

Two Girls (One Bar)
Babylonian Warehouses
Blue Velvet
Flames Over Nebraska
Love Song
My Boyfriend's Back
Stolen Cadillac
Synth Farm
Texas Overture

Press Reaction

"I don't care if you never listen to another Pere Ubu record. It's not important. What is important is that you hear this record, as it is marvelous to hear. There are too many ideas here, crafted to perfection, to avoid. Not one swelling guitar riff is uninteresting. No electronic intersection is wasted, unlike current art-band du jour DELETED, who don't know when to reel it in and keep it interesting, proving that perhaps even today's biggest bands can still learn a thing or two from a band like this." - DecoyMusic, Ben Rice

"Ubu engage in their own highly stylised Americana. Highly mature, desperately riveting... Ubu are producing work that stands alongside their early masterpieces." - Uncut, David Stubbs

"This is a terrific one way ticket journey and beautifully intense." - Nunzio Tomasello, Rockstar (Italy) December 2006

"The noir notion affords Ubu the opportunity to return to the vivid musical topography of The Modern Dance and especially Dub Housing, with "Caroleen" careering along obsessively, and tracks such as "Babylonian Warehouses" and "Blue Velvet" offering dark, desolate but intriguing emotional landscapes. The latter song is a remarkable piece of sympathetic improvisation, featuring some beautiful blues-harp from Jack Kidney, and Thomas's haunting retreat into a place where 'The sun does not warm me/The clean rain does not fall.'" - Independent, Andy Gill, Sep 15 2006

"A black and incandescent jewel and without question a peak of the ubuesque oeuvre. A wonder." - Rock & Folk (France), Oct 2006

"It's all so ****ing great. Best ever. The two records together as wonderful as Pet Sounds and Smile, except instead of Brian Wilson's fractured genius and The Wreaking Crew, best studios in L.A. , David's fractured genius, a four piece rock band and Suma. David's more democratic production and writing procedures allow for more surprises and unexpected beauty. I know David isn't big on the Beatles, but the WAY that you put this stuff together feels more Abbey Road then Capitol Records." - Mark Hutchinson, 9/22/6


More reviews

"Record of The Month" in both Italian magazines Blow Up (October) and Il Mucchio (November)

"Convincing return after a four-year break by the new look U-Men." - Mojo, Sept 2006

"'Babylonian Warehouses' is the best Pere Ubu song ever." - Musikexpress, Albert Koch, Oct 06

"Why I Hate Women is a bold reclamation of the group's status as a rock band...It's an impressive re-statement of everything that made Pere Ubu important in the first place." - The Wire, Tom Ridge, Oct 2006

"He who is not afraid of the dark will love this intelligently grabbing Rock-Album." - Rolling Stone Germany, Jürgen Ziemer, Sept 2006

"Best album since Raygun Suitcase; 'Caroleen' is the strongest rocker since 'I Will Wait.'" - Spex, Werner Ahrensfeld, Sept 2006

"Still crafting songs that will last for another 30 years." - 030 (Berlin), Sept 2006

"No other band sounds like Pere Ubu, and Pere Ubu sounds like no other band. Sure, there are distinctive features of Ubu's music that allow you to recognize it from album to album - singer David Thomas' high, lonesome wail; 3-D synthesizers that map the contours of every song from within, like robot surveyors under extreme duress; Midwestern rock arrangements with equal parts Motown and Stooges - but why does it almost always add up to a perfect coherent thing? Why do I get the feeling every time I listen to an Ubu record that not a single note, phrase, squawk or bleep is out of place? What the hell are they doing in there with those machines? Thomas, the band's founder, leader and sole consistent member over the past 30 years, insists that Ubu isn't an "outsider" or "alternative" rock band, but one that has heedlessly pursued its vision of what rock music promised to be in the 1960s and '70s and therefore represents the authentic mainstream. As Thomas sings on "Synth Farm," "Honey, I'm a-goin' forward/And the future's reversin' back." If you listen to Pere Ubu enough, you'll start to believe it too - Why I Hate Women certainly shares more genes with, say, the Seeds than any retro-haircut-rock band that'll be barfing all over Silver Lake tonight. According to Thomas, this album is an attempt to write the novel Jim Thompson never wrote (he was too scared?), and the title belongs in the mouth of the album's desperate, corrupt protagonist. It's a premise that fires the band up: where recent Ubu albums have sounded like elegies for an America that no longer exists, or that has failed to come into being, this record is a thrill ride from a bar where "the beer don't work on me" all the way to the great family-style restaurants of Texas, "the land of the free," with kind waitresses, pinto beans, coleslaw and more meat than you can eat. My fellow Americans: awake, and claim your true heritage!" - Orange County Weekly, Oliver Hall, Sep 14 2006

"The seeming peculiarity of Pere Ubu's dense sound and the surface gloominess of the lyrics belie the fact that the band actually creates fun music. This may not be party music, but it will raise the adrenaline, if not the testosterone, of those who listen. Put it on and prepare to jump around the room and shake things up. This is not dance music per se, but it would be impossible to sit still while the music's playing." - Pop Matters, Steve Horowitz, Sept 2006