We've been asking artists what's been keeping them busy during COVID-19 lockdown, and this time we've got Joe Casey, whose band Protomartyr just released their excellent fifth album, 'Ultimate Success Today'. Like with the year-end lists Joe's done for us in the past, his lists are never quite like anyone else's in form, tone or function, and that's true for this one too. Take it away, Joe....

When people ask me what I've "accomplished" during lockdown I can only grunt "gained more weight" between fistfuls of food. Sure, I gained the basic knowledge to cook the food in order to gain the weight and that has a sort of nice "teach a man to fish" ring to it. Just replace "fish" with "fry up chicken livers" and "eat for a lifetime" to "consume until duress" and you'll get closer to the true maxim. Honestly, I haven't done shit during lockdown. The first month or so I reverted back to lazy Pre-Protomartyr Joe and became one with the furniture. That's it. I was worried I'd never have the desire to ever read a book again. Weeks went by and nothing happened. Then, at last, one night over at my brother's house the old Shelf of Embarrassment saved me.

It's called the Shelf of Embarrassment for obvious reasons - it's a bookshelf full of Doctor Who books. It's over at my brother's house for the same reason serial murderers should bury their victims far away from where they live - plausible deniability. I couldn't tell you when I started buying these things at used bookstores, but I can tell you all about the sickly feeling that came over me when I jammed the last one into the final slot of a now overstuffed bookcase that screamed "I am weighed down with way, way too many Doctor Who books!". Anyone who has seen it has muttered some variety of "Jesus, that's a lot of Doctor Who books!" in the same way one would pity the chronic shoe thief or a collector of piss jars. Anyway, you get the picture, it's way too many Doctor Who Books.

So yeah. Randomly pulling one of these down one night and slowly reading it built back up the only functioning, strong muscle I've ever had in my body - whatever muscle it is that makes you enjoy reading books (the palmaris longus?).

PROTOMARTYR'S JOE CASEY: WHAT I'VE BEEN READING, WATCHING AND LISTENING TO DURING LOCKDOWN

"The damning evidence"

BOOKS

Doctor Who and The Sontaran Experiment by Ian Marter
Yep, Ian Marter, who played Cpt. Mike Yates on Doctor Who in the 1970s also wrote some Target Book novelizations of the show and I think that's pretty cool.

Doctor Who and The Face of Evil by Terrance Dicks
Terrance Dicks wrote more of these adaptations than anybody. He also was a major writer on the show and recently passed away (R.I.P.). I would say "everybody deserves some Dicks in their lives" here if he was still alive.

Doctor Who and The Mark of the Rani by Pip and Jane Baker
This one stunk but it's by the writers of some of the biggest turd episodes of the show so I should have known. But..

Now my mind was back to fighting shape and I was able to read..

The Dregs of The Day by Máirtín Ó Cadhain, translated from the Irish by Alan Titley
His book, "Cré na Cille" inspired a previous Protomartyr song so I see no reason this one might not do the same down the road.

Picture by Lillian Ross
A book all about John Huston and the making of his movie version of "The Red Badge of Courage". This was the book I was reading as we started our soon-to-be-cancelled tour on March 12th. I didn't pick it back up for three months

Something Like an Autobiography by Akira Kurosawa, translated by Audie E. Bock
See, I had tried reading The Emperor and The Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune by Stuart Galbraith IV but one can not so quickly jump from Doctor Who commiserating with a Sontaran to diving into a 848 page book. So I instead brushed off my copy of Kurosawa's autobiography and reread that. I got a lot of it too. Someday I'll take another crack at that big boy.

The Lost One: The Life of Peter Lorre by Stephen D. Youngkin
I just started this one, so you'll have to check in with me to see how it goes. I love biographies of character actors and Lorre is enough of a favorite that I put him on a Protomartyr tour poster once.

MOVIES

As you can see, there are a lot of movie books up there and for good reason. I have been watching way too many movies lately. I've seen a lot of great ones. I feel kinda stupid for finally appreciating Cassavetes this late in life, but nobody wants to read me go on about movies that are uniformly great. You want a bad movie suggestion, right? Thanks to the podcast "No Such Thing As A Bad Movie" (another suggestion if you like that sort of thing) I can wholeheartedly recommend...

Phobe: The Xenophobic Experiments, directed by Erica Benedikty (1995) 
Shot on video in Southern Ontario, it feels nostalgically perfect in capturing the feel of a lost time - mullets, teased-to-death hair, acid wash and oversized sweatshirts. I really mean it when I say the two leads are the most honest depiction of regular people in extraordinary situations I have seen in years (and one of them is an alien with yellow eyes named Greg). It's on Prime I think but is probably floating around the internet or at your local weird video store - if it still exists.

MUSIC

I'd be a dummy if I didn't point out that Bandcamp has been a wonderful and vital resource in 2020. For me, it's the only place that continually leads me to new and exciting sounds and feels like they have the musicians and the fans actually in mind when they go about their business. A few interesting things.

Treasury of Puppies by Treasury of Puppies
I don't know how to classify what this is and I don't want to. I think the recitations are in Swedish, so I don't know what they're saying. I hope it's something not bad.

Hiding From The Landlord by Nun Attax / Five Go Down To The Sea? / Beethoven
A comp of three Cork bands and a history of their frontman. It's another great release by the boutique Irish label Allchival who continue to put out interesting stuff.

I dunno, who cares?
Keep protesting. Black lives matter.
Listen and learn.
Kick the fuckers out. Reform what can be saved and tear down the rest.
Wear a mask. End the billionaire class.

--

Read our review of Ultimate Success Today.

We also talked to Protomartyr about pizza while eating pizza at Brooklyn's upscale Detroit-style pizza place Emmy Squared a few years ago. It's a fun read.