“Nobody really knows me, including myself,” says Samuel Lopez, aka performance artist Zsa Zsa Gabor, who first earned local notice as a teenager in the band Dark Sarcasm, which included future Black Heart Procession cofounder Pall Jenkins. “I consider myself a noise musician,” he says. “Or a noisician, if you prefer. I’ve simply reached my limit with the conventionality of the guitar and have found sonic liberation utilizing found objects like broken glass, knives, or crowbars as tools to play against the strings.”
Asked to describe the resultant sounds, he says “Piercing shards of explosive feedback. Dissonant swirls of mutilated musical notes. Guttural shrieks of broken guitar.”
In addition to performing and recording, Lopez has also ventured into putting together and promoting themed events like the San Diego Experimental Guitar Show. “As a curator, I’m very fortunate to have musicians from all over the world visit San Diego. Their number-one request is to see the Pacific Ocean. My favorite beach to share with them is the La Jolla Cove. We frolic on the idyllic and lush landscapes, tunnel through forlorn and eldritch sea caves, and become mesmerized by those intimidating dark waters.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
1) Cut Hands, Afro Noise. “These intense, primitive workouts of malevolent bouts of percussion inspire me, through trance-inducing Third World fantasies.”
2) Gary Numan, The Pleasure Principle. “Despite the lack of guitars, this delightful electro-pop offering keeps things flowing, with energetic and uplifting songs about androids and personal safety. One of my son’s favorite albums.”
3) Survival Research Laboratories, Illusions of Shameless Abundance. “Bleak soundtrack to the end times, a complete bring-me-down to play when things get too cheery.”
4) Tears for Fears, Tears Roll Down (Greatest Hits 82–92). “A genius thread flows throughout these tracks. Life is not all dreary, and this collection is the perfect complement for the perfect day in a perfect world.”
5) Dead Times, self-titled. “Industrial accidents never felt this good. This is real horror show, ripped from the front pages of the sickest, most depraved newspaper, and set to the sound of cranial operations, sans anesthesia.”
WHAT WERE YOU TOO EMBARRASSED TO MENTION?
“I have a few praise and worship CDs from back in the day. Although the air has been let out of that tire, the songs still hold a fond place in my heart, strictly for nostalgic purposes.”
BEST FREE HANGOUT?
“I like to take my family and wander aimlessly through the great stone monstrosities of Balboa Park. We notice something new each visit. Also, Old Town for its rich history. And any public library. You’ve got to feed the brain.”
“Eyehategod when they played the L.A. Murderfest in 2009. The Knitting Factory exploded into a post-apocalyptic mess of drunken cretins the second the band came on. They hadn’t played in years, so this bottled-up, powerful black ejaculate showered the crowd like molten rock.”
STUFF YOU NEVER RUN OUT OF?
“Leffe beer and Casa Sanchez Fresh Roasted Salsa.”
DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?
“I believe in the practice of magic, black or white. Whether it yields results is a totally different matter.”
BRUSH WITH FAME?
“Patting ex–Oingo Boingo frontman Danny Elfman on the shoulder and asking him to move so I could get by. This was at a Melvins show at the Troubadour in Hollywood.”
ROLL CALL OF ROLE MODELS?
“I can tell you who inspires me, therefore directly affecting my life: Freddie Mercury, James Marshall Hendrix, Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright, Vincent Furnier (aka Alice Cooper), and Greg Ginn.”
FEARS OR PHOBIAS?
“I have a fear of not getting involved. Oh, and tight spaces, literally and figuratively, give me the creeps.”
WHO DO PEOPLE SAY YOU LOOK LIKE?
“In my younger years, I could be the diabolic doppelganger for Slayer’s Tom Araya circa South of Heaven.”
WHEN DID YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO?
“Sitting in my dad’s Datsun B210, listening to the majestic spoken-word intro to Ted Nugent’s ‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’ from Double Live Gonzo. Yeah, that wrecked me!”
“A thousand years ago, I used to rehearse in the back of a produce truck. One day, all of my gear, including my drummer’s instruments, were gone! The drummer insisted it was a bass player who we auditioned earlier that week. I don’t know. That bassist listened to the Cows, [so] he couldn’t have been all that bad. My biggest loss was a prized Peavey Butcher [amp]. Damn, that thing was loud.”