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issue: 11/15/2000

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vCity 1.0
by Dr. Adam L. Gruen

20 days in the life of a 21st century virtual city simulation.

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Selected Father Time songs:
Lo Fi Play (24 kbps)

Is It Something I Said

The Rustlin' of the Trees

Virtual Star

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Virtual Rock Star
An Interview with Father Time

Times they are a'changin'. In just the last few years music technology and internet access have skyrocketed. Musicians now have access to affordable recording and mixing sytems that allow for more flexibility than ever before. MP3's are traveling the net in record numbers. The outlets and possiblities for artists are now endless.

Gone are the days of banging on record company doors in order to get mass exposure. A new breed of artists have emerged. The "Virtual Rock Star". I've recently had the chance to interview an active virtual musician, who in some circles is known as the "Last Rock Hope".

As we begin this interview, virtual rock artist Father Time is burning up the Rock Guitar charts at His latest song, "The Rustlin' of the Trees" is currently #13 with a bullet.

The interview was held on the bulletin board at, which is a user group for owners of Roland VS Digital Audio Workstations.

Dan Richards: Father Time, I'm looking for a way to kick this off. Could you tell us a little about how you wound up posting your music to And what have been your experiences with the site?

Father Time: Well, the first part of that question is easy. My first CD was released in February of 99, and I really decided to tackle the whole online music thing. I think it was mid January I posted some songs on, IUMA, Ultimate Band List, and I actually researched a lot more sites and possibilities than that, but those 4 were non-exclusive and had some momentum at the time.

The second part of your question could be answered as a epic novel the size of War and Peace. I love, the whole concept of it, because, well, speaking of war, if one broke out tomorrow I could have a song about it on my page within 48 hours pretty easily, and that includes writing and recording it, prolific motherfucker that I am. Immediacy, and a massive potential audience. is an institution, and it's actually quite responsible for this being probably the most memorable year of my life. I've met some truly unforgettable people, and in a pure business sense, more people probably know of me than would have ever known of my music 10 years ago even if Rolling Stone, Creem or Circus posted a review of Father Time back then.

But is a business, and there are plenty of built in frustrations, not the least of which is that there are so many manipulations going on with the charts and the Pay For Play concept. But what they've tried to do is impossible to pull off without corruption, because using your computer to download free music is not a tangible product. Today's online artists are so motivated by the charts and Pay For Play that they lose sight of the fact that they actually want people to like their music, and they come to settle for being happy if somebody turns their computer on in the morning and streams their whole page with the volume turned down. I know what I'm talking about because in a lot of ways I've lost the sense of purity I had about all this when I first came into the situation. But I think the reason I am much more resilient than most about the frustration factor is that I worked on my music for years without needing to even play it for anyone, so I will always be in tune with the fact that it exists outside of the marketplace.

But that's a whole big can of worms, the problems with OMD (Online Music Distribution). More interesting are various things I've been a part of while there. One of my most famous moments, the one I sort of cut my teeth with, was the now infamous hip hop protest. It still really infuriates me what came down in that situation because if the honchos at had shown sufficient vision, that, I still believe (and others agree) could have been the moment when internet music made its first giant splash on the big music world, which has really yet to happen.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I staged a hip hop protest, which was basically just a statement on behalf of rockers that I was tired of gangsta rappers saying that rock is dead. I always thought hip hop music was really lacking in musical elements, that much of it was just the same drone, and I made my case on the bbs and mainly by releasing my song Rock for the Sake of Rock in the hip hop category. My point being that Kid Rock could use that beat on many of his songs and call himself Rock, I wanted to be allowed to crossover as well. Fair is fucking fair. Anyway, has never seen anything like what transpired, and it was all so relevant to the culture of music that we must now exist in. My rock anthem was up to # 12 on the hip hop charts with 2 arrows. The whole bb was filled with hateful stuff about me by Father Time clone names. I got death threats. Guitar World Magazine had some interest in the story. Imagine, rock taking a stand . . . today ! Yes, it was wild and just starting to really erupt, but the whole thing got snuffed by the administrator Rod Underhill, who took the song off my page to appease the hip hoppers who were complaining. I might also add that many of the rockers didn't want to do the rah rah for rock either, even though they all would've benefited in a promo sense. They mostly came to hate me for it, because for one, most of them are humorless and couldn't possibly find any levity in an old time rock and roll demonstration. But I guess they just can't see that while they may be quite open to all genres of music, there is a huge rap/hip hop crowd that would only have a Led Zeppelin song in their household if Puffy was doin' it. Someone needs to be proud to be a rocker in this era, so I was elected, no recount needed. dropped the ball though, should have allowed the scene to happen and let it go national, but the crybabies prevailed, as they often do.

Audience Member "JMP": Father Time's hip hop protest was at once the funniest and most eye-opening event I've ever seen on the internet. Sheer pandemonium. Words can't do it justice, really. And at the center of it all was Father Time, virtually standing there alone, guitar in hand, with the whole on-line cast of incensed idiots arrayed against him. It had more than a touch of mythic elements about it.

DR: So, you've had some censorship problems with Didn't I also see not too long ago, that you were censored for a song title?

FT: I've had a lot of problems with censorship, and not because of adult-oriented material or threats of violence or anything extreme, just for speaking the truth and not backing down in situations where people didn't want to hear it. And in these cases, new precedents were always created. It is amazing to me that I've probably witnessed this kind of repressive thinking more from so-called artists than in any other arena of my life.

Let's see, in the last year, in order, I had my screen name blocked at the VS Planet, I had my song removed from at the height of my hip hop protest, I had massive amounts of people using clone names to try to obscure my voice, I had threats of violence and invasions of privacy with direct reference to "You better shut up", I had people using spam attacks on me, which is inserting almost infinite image files into my threads so people for practical purposes alone had to stop reading, I was threatened with libel lawsuits by various people FOR telling the truth, I had a fairly benign sexual discussion forum with Zeeza deleted from the bb, caused by the same complaining guy who tried to get my song Miss Wills Frustration removed from cause I intimated to him that this was my teacher's real name and he claimed to be worried that her kids may get upset by the song should they find this out, a petition was started by Crack Emcee to remove me from, I had my domain site hacked - attached to a demand that I give private information on myself, I had posts deleted on the new bb, I had my name blocked at, I was banned from one artist bb and it got to a point where they wouldn't even allow my name to be spoken so every other thread (since nearly half were about me!) would have XX inserted where people mentioned the name Father Time, I was unindexed (which makes you ineligible for any charts) by for a bad drawing of a hand giving the finger that was approximately one inch square on my page (even though some of the gangsta rappers use the same basic image on their page), an Email campaign was started to write letters to my web server to complain about me (this came when the hacking did not make me back down), my newsletter website was hacked and the counter tampered with, . . . and my screen name was banned from

I'm against censorship, very much. Almost all these situations were fed by lies and the kind of rumor-based reputation that a girl might get in high school even though she never even kissed a boy, it was a bandwagon kind of thing. There are a lot of people out there who, no questions asked, follow the consensus (I often refer to them as sheep), and people by a certain point were blowing so many things out of proportion, it did cross my mind in a humorous way that maybe the aliens had made me the subject of this study on truth and adversity.

DR: One thing I want to add here for the readers, Father Time, is that you are quite adept at not only promoting yourself on the web, but you have the all-important ability to stick up for yourself. I have never seen anyone who can flame back an attacker as skillfully as you do. I've seen you in action many times. You are relentless. What's your secret?

FT: Now, anybody familiar with my writing knows that although I use the word fuck a lot, I'm not a threatening sort of person, but people hate to be responsible for their own words. And I might also add that most of my venom when it comes out is in the process of defending myself against some really mean-spirited shit. My god, the amount of words spent by everyone in this last year dealing with Father Time. And I'm just basically doing my thing, sometimes I'm happy, sometimes I'm down, sometimes I get mad, but I do roll with the punches, you gotta give me that. One dude has bragged that he has catalogued all my controversial posts at and will release them in book form someday. He occasionally throws some out at me, and there have been times where I thought "Shit, did I say that ?" but almost every time, that thought is overwhelmed by just how damn entertaining I am. ha ha I'd like to read that guy if he was letting it all hang out for everyone to see. So funny, some of the most damaging past posts in this archivist's collection I was honestly thrilled to see "exposed", because to me they had been lost forever. Parts made me cringe a little, but damn, that guy is colorful, and I said those things, I'll live with them just fine. Others don't want to do the same though, so when they are forced to face up, they not only want to censor me, they want to tell the world that I'm a liar. And for some, it became their mission in life.

DR: 48 hours from idea to finished master published on the web is quite an accomplishment, and you're a very prolific writer. Where do ideas for songs come from? What and who do you consider to be some of your most important influences?

FT: The ideas for my songs come from the here and now, mainly. I'm very in tune with the here and now. The song I just uploaded today I've had around for maybe 10 years, called "Is it somethin' I said ?" but it became really worth recording when I wrote some lyrics that applied to a lot of the things that have been going on with me. I think almost everyone who has had any kind of a gripe with me will feel like I'm singing to them in this song, and I am. "I've been waiting for that day, oh the day that you admit you're wrong" My last song, "rustlin' of the trees" I wrote this summer about a girl I really care about. I sent her the song lyrics the night I wrote them and kind of regretted it afterwards, cause it was just too much info. But that's what happens with me sometimes, I let it out. "Virtual Star", my god, that could be the theme song from my life for the past few months, it's getting so complicated. That song will always be special too me because it got out everything right then. I was naked to the world for that moment, and although surely the lyrics leave a lot of room for speculation about me, if you want to know my state of mind in the latter part of the year 2000, there it is. The songs come various ways - "rustlin" was just lyrics at first, but I've been doin' this so long they find their way to me from different angles and how they get there it just doesn't matter.

My musical influences, well, in the long run, the Beatles, Neil Young, the Beatles and Neil Young again, Led Zep, the Stones, the Who, the Sex Pistols, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Al Green, Carole King, Springsteen, Dylan, psychodelic music, soul music. Nothing current excites me at all except the next Neil record, or Plant and Page maybe.

But the biggest artistic influence I've ever had is my friend and the one I have much infatuation for (to use her words), the icon known as Zeeza. She has taught me to let it happen. I had all these pretenses when I first decided to unleash my music on the world, but now I just want to let the river flow. She is undescribably in touch with the muse and my nickname for her is the Mojo Magnet. Father Time's life has taken such a different path since I was lucky enough to get to know her, not that getting to know her is ever really obtainable, ha ha. I have come to understand that had I not learned some very valuable lessons just from watching her in action, I would surely by now be boxed in by my ego and my stubbornness. By 2002 she will probably have 200 songs on her page. Zeeza loves what she does and does it all for the right reasons. She lives her life and her art reflects it. Her songs come out like flowers growing from her soul, and then it's time to record another one.

DR: Could you tell us a little more about Zeeza and your relationship? She's doing quite well, with over $3000 in Playback earnings and was chosen as one of's Best acts of 1999.

FT: Zeeza . . . well, Dan, that relationship question is hard to answer cause I'd have to know how she feels and that information is not available, ha ha. I can tell you this, there is no doubt in my mind that we were destined to hook up in some way, cause we were kindred spirits, both letting our individual spirits soar free in the midst of a lot of people moving along with the flow. Both of us had to endure a lot of outside pressure about our association. Zeeza was pleaded with by many people who had convoluted motives to stop associating with me, and people have used my feelings for her as a way of going after me, as well. The idea of 2 individuals like Zeeza and FT being in cahoots caused some of the joiners to feel threatened, and she and I both had a lot of fun at various points of the turmoil when you might have expected that we would be hurt if we were the least bit sensitive to the obvious hatred surrounding us then.

I might add, she's the only person I've ever met in my lifetime whose very presence in a crowd causes more of a stir than yours truly. And she does have quite a following that has remained strong through so many attempts to drag her name through the mud. Funny thing is, I hadn't really listened to her music, even when we started to banter a good deal on the bbs. That whole thing opened up for me after hearing the song she wrote with some lyrics I Emailed her, "This is my First Time". The song blew me away, still does, and subsequently I have found her music to be so insidious, like the records you might have bought back when a lot of good ones were being made. It took me about 7 times listening to Dark Side of the Moon before it kicked in for me. Zeeza's has a similar reaction time, its power comes with more familiarity. I believe she is the greatest living female artist. You take the 20 + timeless songs on a station I created for her called Zeezamania , and just realize, these were all recorded in the last year ! Add to that her writings and her artwork which inspired me to call her the Andy Warhol of photoshop, and do you think Alanis or Jewel or Sarah M. or Sheryl Crow or any of these ladies can touch her ? NO WAY. In a couple years everybody's gonna be sayin', "Scott, you were so right."

DR You're not only prolific with your music, but you write a lot on the web as well. How about a bit of background on your publication, The Times . How did you start it, and what's the main purpose?

FT The Times, well, we just did our 10th issue and it has been viewed more than any other issue up til this point. That sort of came about when I wrote this long piece about all the hassles I was having, and it was just too good to just be a thread on a bulletin board. Also, it was a good way to answer back to the people who maintained a bulletin board which seemed to completely exist to attack FT and Zeeza. Zeeza wrote a rant too, after she read mine and the Times was born. I actually spent a lot of time writing a newsletter a few years back I was gonna distribute to record stores, but some other project got me off the track, so it's something I always wanted to do. I don't know if some folks know this, I did post about it on occasion, but my college degree was actually centered on my desires to become a film and music critic. A special program at my college was created within the Communications dept. to help me achieve this goal. So . . . I am a trained critic. By the time I got my degree though, a screenwriting course had taken my interests elsewhere, and I moved to LA to pursue that after graduation. Then I bought an acoustic guitar that actually sounded good, and from that point forward, music has been the thing. Add to that, I eventually sold my baseball cards for $1000 and bought my Strat, and then I knew what was in my blood - rock became my purpose. Funny I should start writing and being a sort of critic again now, for free. But the Times is a lot of fun. My friend Bill Wright was added to the staff, so now our publication is created in full by the 3 people named on a petition to be banned from, ha ha. And I've actually had the pleasure of reading some of Zeeza's rants directly as they were being written on ICQ, watching the angst pour out of her, and those were very special moments in my life and are alone reason enough to do the Times. But I have been pleasantly surprised that I receive quite a bit of positive Email about the Times, and even more surprised to see who some of the regular readers are.

Visit Father Time's artist page for Lo Fi Play (24 kbps), Hi Fi Play (128 kbps) and MP3 downloads at

Part 2 of this interview will appear in the December 15 issue of Mindjack


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