Blue Collar Calling: Musicians from ‘90s Cleveland Hardcore Scene Start New Noise Project

Photo: Jim Szudy

Blue Collar Calling is a new sonic project from Steven Meketa (Apartment 213, Lockweld, Electro Static Orchestra) and Jim Szudy (Fellahean, Windscale, Nihil Omnia). The duo's soundscapes veer anywhere from ambient to nighmarish, and wouldn't sound out of place on the Hospital Productions discography.

No Echo chatted with both Steven and Jim about the new endeavor, their musical bond, and more.

Give me the backstory on the formation of the project. What drew you guys together on a musical level? 

Steven Meketa: I have known Jim for many years. We have always worked together doing sound/noise over the years. Jim’s a photographer, one day a photo he posted on the socials popped up and I thought, “that would be a banger deal to do sound that amplifies how rad the photo is.” So, I reached out to Jim and Blue Collar Calling was conjured up. We had been chatting about doing work awhile back with our dear friend Stephen Kasner (Blood Fountains, Irons), and as you know and your readers know, he passed away at the end of 2019. 

Jim Szudy: To add to Steven’s response, we collaborated on numerous projects for many years, mostly ’non-music” projects such as Electro Static Orchestra, tHE fAMILY, Accident, and In Verse. They were all building blocks to where we are now with Blue Collar Calling. Steven hit me up one day with “we need to do a noise project, the correct way.” It was set to be a three piece project with Stephen Kasner, but unfortunately Kasner passed away in December of 2019. 

How about specic influences that helped fuel what you're doing with Blue Collar Calling?

Steven Meketa: Bands that inspire boom that list would be to large and I would get wrist damage typing it. So, Nurse With Wound. Psywarfare. 

Jim Szudy: My influences are drawn from all sources of “music,” “non-music,” film, literature, photography, and mostly from everyday mundane sounds/experiences.

Influence lists are always long and boring, so the main “music” influential artists without boring anyone for me are: Nurse With Wound, Syd Barrett, Mark Sandman, Kubrick, Bach, and Lockweld.

How would you describe the Blue Collar Calling's sound? 

Steven Meketa: Our sound is less wall noise than others. It is definitely abrasive but not overload. I would say if a free jazz band practiced at a machine shop while people passed by would be a good way to describe our sound. I think?

Jim Szudy: Our sound might be described as a surrealist sound segment. Like any good form of art/expression, it is open to interpretation to the person experiencing it.  

Tell me how the material got put together.

Steven Meketa: Sounds are made by me destroying metal or something. Jim destroying that. In other words. I record myself grinding metal, I send it to Jim he layers it with de tuned instruments. Moog synth stuff. Bombs. You know, that old chestnut. It’s a dynamic that works for us. 

Jim Szudy: Steven will send me material, and we will discuss the basic ingredient(s) of what we want the track to sound like and I will run with it. Its creation, destruction, and deconstruction at its purest form. We are not making “noise” for noisesake, or “music," we are making non-music. 

For someone who isn’t well-versed on noise music, what are some records you would recommend to ease them into it?

Steven Meketa: Nurse With Wound. Merzbow. Start there. You will fall into a rabbit hole of sound. 

Jim Szudy: Yes, definitely Nurse With Wound, in addition to Merzbow, Throbbing Gristle, and M.B. There are so many many others out there….you have to find them the way we did pre internet...

Before we close this out, is there anything else you'd like to mention in this piece?

Steven Meketa: Carlos, thank you, once again, for having an interest with all my creative ongoing. I want to thank God for life. Jim for putting up with my O.C.D., A.D.D. and whatever else mentally I have. If it’s okay, I would love to plug Skogging.com, and ask everyone to peep the new Skogging board over at Shark Wheel. Shark were on Shark Tank a while back and have literally reinvented the wheel. 

Jim Szudy: Thank you, Carlos, for your time, consideration, and interest in Steven and I. I wouldn’t have it this far without my true family (especially my parents Mary Ann and Jim), friends, and the Patty to my Chuck, Lidia. And of course, thanks to Steven for always pushing me into directions—sometimes literally [laughs]. I never considered or thought of every conversation we have is one for the books!  

As a Director of the Cleveland Photo Fest, check out our website for 2021 events here, You can view my photography, 440 Photography, here.

Blue Collar Calling on Facebook


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