“I think one of my favorite things about the red tour is that I’m really; one of the main focuses I had was incorporating the element of surprise and incorporating the unexpected. Umm, whether it was taking the song that they knew we’d play and kind of reformulating the song into something different than they had expected. Or a different visual than they had expected; or one minute you’re seeing this outfit and the split second later it’s this outfit. Umm, I really like to, umm, I like to think that a good concert can be like a good book. It can take you away. It can take you to a different place and help you escape. And umm I think that the main goal for me is, is helping the fans to escape even only just for one night, you know?”
If you follow the #menswear scene even casually, you recognize this guy. But you may not know who he is. His interest and influence in menswear began long before the hashtag, before even the Internet. Kamoshita is a sartorial polyglot - as a young man he immersed himself in Ivy Style; as a buyer and now Creative Director of the famed Japanese store United Arrows, he has gained mastery over Italian style; and he remains an advocate of Japanese style, meticulousness, and respect of craftsmanship.
Camoshita, his own clothing brand and personal project, speaks this creole in tailored clothing with a playful lilt. Here is my conversation with him.
What would you describe as the Japanese aesthetic, and how would you say it influences your designs?
As I examine the designs created in Western culture, I try to update them, and same time add authentic taste as a Japanese person.
It reflects not only craftsmanship, but also colors, material, form and balance.
“All of these books are about how to become free: how to become free of your conditioning; how to become free of resentment and hatred and the weight of the past. So Patrick is on the case. He may often be very unhappy or self-destructive or confused or say things that are sarcastic, but his whole direction is towards freedom, which he eventually achieves.”
Ryan: Was Jay the catalyst that got you going live?
Alicja: Jay was a catalyst. He was terribly high strung. Jay had an abnormal level of anxiety. It was unhealthy. I came from a family that had an unhealthy level of anxiety so dealing with it was normal for me. You get accustomed to playing shows as an endorphin rush. You only get that way by screaming and letting yourself go. We weren’t always having a good time playing. There would be times where everything was going great and then it’d be like, “Shit, Jay’s freaking out again.” He’d be yelling at someone or freaking out about something. It wasn’t all the time. To this day, I don’t like playing quiet shows. But I definitely don’t want to go back to the days of singing “Satan Bought Me.” I just don’t have that much anxiety any more. It might be part of getting older. Jay had no tolerance for people messing up. Rich and I had the same internal feeling, but we wouldn’t let it out like Jay did. As a group we functioned well because we all wanted to get the job done. We’d occasionally have a fourth person in the band who was the easy going personality. With John (Garland), Patrick (Jordan), or John (Acosta) it was a case of thinking, “Okay, we can only take it so far before they start freaking out.”
Rich: Jay’s anxiety was awful, awful, awful. You could feel it ten feet away. Nobody wanted to make him angry. When Jay got angry, the tour could be canceled or he’d decide that he didn’t want to get in the van that night. The list of complaints, threats and demands just mounted over the years. It got to the point where he wasn’t happy with just himself being anxiety ridden, everyone had to be anxiety ridden with him. It worked. I’m wired that way. Alicja is a lot more calm and levelheaded. It’s really tough to describe. We’d try to get through the show without any mistakes so he wouldn’t fly off of the handle. He’d make it uncomfortable for everybody: promoters, the people there seeing the show, other bands on the bills; the guy who was supposed to pay us at the end of the night. We might have had a place lined up to stay that night; Jay would piss those people off and they’d be gone. Then there’d be nowhere to stay. But at the same time we wanted to put on a great show. We were so well rehearsed. We practiced twice a week for three hours at a time. We had our show down. If anything went wrong on stage, you’d better watch out. Something was going to get thrown at you or at the very least you were going to get yelled at. It was tough. Alicja and I wanted to keep everything streamlined and harmonious. Jay felt that way too. If he fucked up, Alicja would give it right back to him, then Jay would dish it right back. They were in a relationship together so they had the right to do that. I didn’t know how to handle it. I’d be ganged up on or it would be me and Jay on Alicja or Alicja and me on Jay. There was a lot going on in Lost Sounds. An argument might have surfaced in the van ten minutes before we got into town or ten minutes before we got on stage. In retrospect, it’s really funny. It wasn’t a lot of fun at the time though. I always felt rewarded when nights went well. There was a heavy and dark dynamic to Lost Sounds.
Meghan: I booked a Lost Sounds show with a band that shall remain nameless. Jay had a meltdown. The opening band couldn’t play because half of them were out scoring crack. Alicja told me, “We’re in Seattle now. You go deal with Jay. I’m taking the night off. I deal with this Monday through Friday. You go into the van and find out what’s wrong with him so we can go on stage.”
Other Members of Lost Sounds
Ryan: Were the other guys like Patrick (Jordan) who came into the band able to handle the tension?
Rich: They did. When it was just the three of us—Alicja, Jay and me—we did get along most of the time. We laughed a lot on tour. But when it got dark it got dark. When it got light it was really, really light. We got along well. We spent so much time together. When the other guys came in they felt like outsiders. They weren’t part of this trinity that had begun at the beginning. They didn’t have that much invested; they just had to learn the parts. As far as getting emotionally involved, there was a wall between them and us.
Alicja: I think that the people who came in and out of the band left because they weren’t songwriters in Lost Sounds. Sometimes they’d move to a different city or wanted to form another band with their own sound. They were never made the scapegoats. I can’t recall if I read this or someone told me this, but Jay said in an interview that Lost Sounds was his last real band. I think he was frustrated because he had a sound in his head that he couldn’t get others to duplicate. With Lost Sounds, we developed the sound and ideas together. Jay and I never said, “Play your part exactly like this.”
Third LP: Rat’s Brains and Microchips released on Empty Records (2002)
Alicja: “Black Coats/White Fear” and “Energy Drink” were the most popular songs off that album. We were really hitting our stride by then. We thought Rat Brain’s and Microchips was going to hit a lot harder than it did. But like I said, we always had a steady climb and increase in fans. It was exciting for us. The tours were great. We were making decent money and selling a lot of merch. We were really productive. That album didn’t sound exactly how I wanted it to sound. Jay made it sound a little more blown out than I wanted it to. But when I go back and listen to it now—it was recorded digitally with 16-tracks—had it more clarity, I would have liked it more. We sounded really brutal live. I just didn’t want the record to sound like that. But overall I’m happy with Rat’s Brainsand Microchips. We got a little experimental with the opening track. We opened up our shows with “Rat’s Brains and Microchips.” We were really tight by that time. Our shows were forty-five minutes of brutality.
Rich: I love Rat’s Brains and Microchips! “Black Coats/White Fear” is my mom’s favorite Lost Sounds song. My mom loved Lost Sounds. Black Wave and Rat’s Brains sort of bleed into one another. I don’t prefer one album over the other. There were are a lot of keyboards on Rat’s Brains. Jon (Kirkscey) was playing cello with us. The band was getting big. The funny thing is that all of our equipment was still shitty! It didn’t matter how big the band got. We were trying to do something different. We were really leaving garage rock behind by Rat’s Brains. Jay and Alicja were moving onto something different. It’s a fun record. It’s not as serious as Black Wave. Then again the covers were always goofy. Look at Rat’s Brains; we’re flying around on microchips. Alicja loved doing the covers. We all thought they were great.
Ryan: You helped get Lost Sounds on In The Red, correct?
Meghan: I was going to leave Empty. I gave the label a year’s notice. I knew that Jay was going to leave Empty. There were a lot of labels interested in doing records with Lost Sounds. John (Reis) from Swami wanted to do a record with Lost Sounds. Lost Sounds ended up doing a whole tour with Rocket From the Crypt. Oddly enough, Slim Moon from Kill Rock Stars wanted to sign Lost Sounds. When Jay told me about Slim Moon being interested, I said, “That’s weird.” Jay replied, “Well, he’s booking a show for us in Olympia. You should come out to Olympia and then we’ll come to Seattle.” I drove to Olympia. The show was weird. It ended up being at this biker NA bar. Alicja, Rich and I were going to leave Jay with Slim Moon; they were supposed to discuss putting out records. I knew it wasn’t going to work. Slim was probably too weird for Jay. Alicja, Rich and I went to some bar; we didn’t have cell phones at the time. Twenty minutes later Jay found us; he must have just walked from bar to bar looking for us. Jay said, “I can’t believe you left me with that guy.” I told him, “It’s Slim Moon from Kill Rock Stars. I thought you could handle it.” Jay said, “He’s weird.” I have a really good friend named Bruce Milne who ran Au Go Go Records for a lot of years. He was visiting here in the States. He said, “Hey, Larry (Hardy) really wants to put out one of your bands. He wants to talk with you about it.” People who ran labels, they didn’t want to do anything underhanded. Eric was okay with me releasing a Reatards LP. It was a small community back then. I told Larry, “You’re not going to hurt my feelings by releasing the next Lost Sounds record. It’s okay.” I don’t know if he could have done more for them than we could. I’m not sure if Larry was too into metal. The Lost Sounds had a metal sound to them. There was really nothing like the Lost Sounds before they came out. They were new wave, punk rock, metal and garage all at the same time. They came up with something different. They also had a strong female in the band who could really play.
Future Touch EP released on In The Red Records (2004)
Larry: I didn’t meet Meghan until I got involved with Lost Sounds. She helped explain the dynamics of the band. Normally I wouldn’t need someone to do that but in the case of Lost Sounds it was good information to have. I did an interview with a magazine. They asked me what bands I liked that weren’t on my label. I told them Lost Sounds was my favorite. I think that’s how the band knew I was interested in them. After Rat’s Brains they were looking to move to a different label. Jay cold called me out of nowhere. He asked me if I wanted to release their next record. I never dealt with someone on my label who called me as much as Jay did. He called me every day. He told me, “We need to be in constant communication with the people we’re working with.”
Rich: Getting on In The Red was a big deal. We were doing records consistently with Empty up until then and nothing was really happening. The same distribution and the same promotion would be used for each record. We all felt that we needed to step it up a little bit. We weren’t interested in becoming rock stars. But when we heard Larry was interested in putting out one of our records, we definitely felt we had to follow up on it. Meghan from Empty was the one who told Jay that Larry was interested. Jay did all the talking with labels. I’m not sure what the relationship was like between Blake from Empty and Jay. The relationship between Jay and Meghan was good. Empty dissolved a short time later. When we signed with In The Red, Larry gave us a big enough advance to buy a 24-track recorder that we used for Future Touch.
Alicja: I’m not even sure why we put out that EP. I think we wanted an introduction to In The Red. Future Touch is going to be reissued soon. It’s going to be remastered. It didn’t get mastered properly the first time. That was our fault. We didn’t have a proper record player to listen to the test pressing on. We took it to different record players and it sounded squashed. “Black Flowers” sounds more blown out than it should. At that time, Jay was thinking of making the records sound cleaner. We were going into different places with a heavier emphasis on keyboards and different song structures. Jay had become a really good keyboard player by then.
Larry: I don’t recall why we released that EP either (as opposed to a full length). They always had an abundance of material. Jay and Alicja told me how much money they wanted to record what became their Self-titled record. It was the money they needed to buy more recording gear. Lost Sounds recorded themselves and produced their own records. I gave them the money. I think it was a case where they said, “Hey, do you want to do an EP to establish the fact that we’re on your label?” It happened really quick. Right after we struck a deal they had Future Touch ready to go. Looking back on it now, Future Touch is a really strong record. I’m glad we put it out.
Fourth LP:Self-titledreleased on In The Red Records (2004)
Ryan: Patrick (Jordan) plays bass on your Self-titled record. He also plays the incredible solo on “We’re Just Living”. I think you call it “LA lead” on the record.
Alicja: Patrick is a great guitar player. Sometimes after practice, Patrick would play guitar and Rich would sing. I’ve actually got twenty minutes of them recorded; Rich singing, “Every rose has it’s thorn…” Patrick would follow along and Rich would yell, “Take a lead, Patrick.” Patrick would go off. If you ever meet Patrick, you’ll find out quickly that he can’t see anything. He’d go to people’s houses and look at their records; his face would be three inches away. Cops would stop him and yell at him: “What are you doing?!” We’d say, “He’s nearly blind!” Patrick was all ears to make up for his vision. We’d have to tune his bass on stage. He couldn’t see the tuner.
Ryan: I really like the B Side to your Self-titled record. “And You Dance?” and “Let’s Get Sick” are some of your best songs.
Alicja: I agree. What’s funny about that record is we put all of the songs we were most uncomfortable with on the second side and those are the better ones. Had we stayed together, Jay’s songs would have turned into new-wave pop and my songs would’ve been loaded with weird timing changes. We were totally outside of garage rock by that time.
End of Lost Sounds (2005)
Alicja: By the time Larry took us on (at In The Red), Jay and I weren’t dating anymore. We tried to keep the band going after our relationship ended. It lasted about seven or eight months. It made things weird, especially on tour. That may have been the reason why the band ended. I know Jay can’t speak for himself. Jay had Final Solutions. I had River City Tanlines and Mouserocket. I think he got mad that I was making records with other bands. If people appreciated my songs, he got angry. Jay wasn’t that way in the beginning. Jay got pretty blatant about dating other people and bringing it into the mix of our band. That made me not want to hide that part of my life anymore. Something about me was irritating him a lot. Although I wasn’t trying to step on his toes, it seemed to eat him up. He was drinking more. In London he hit me with a mic stand really hard. He got into a physical altercation with me and a yelling match with Rich on that tour. That was the end of the band. We played a show in Dresden, Germany. They take bookings seriously in Europe. Jay just left the stage. The promoter said to us, “What’s wrong? What did I do?” He felt bad. There’s a language barrier and he didn’t know what was going on. That was pretty uncomfortable. With River City Tanlines, I realized acting that way wasn’t normal. They (Terrence Bishop and John Bonds) could play aggressively and party till six in the morning but still have a good time. They don’t yell at the sound guy and the audience. Rich and I just became acclimated with that in Lost Sounds. I was upset that Lost Sounds had so much going for it but that it was falling apart. Even though I wasn’t dating Jay anymore, I would have stayed with the band. But it wasn’t working for him.
Rich: Alicja and Jay had broken up. It was sad that the band was going to end because of it. I wanted to continue. With Jay’s personality, continuing Lost Sounds after their breakup couldn’t have worked. With Alicja’s personality, it could have. Alicja is very diplomatic. Jay wanted to go onto greener pastures. He started dating someone else. He was infatuated with this new girl. The fact that he had to go on one more European tour that he had committed to…he had called everyone on the phone and said, “I can’t go on this European tour.” We all hated cancelling. We may have cancelled six or seven shows before. Alicja and I were not about to cancel a whole tour that we had signed ourselves up to. People had worked hard setting it up. Jay was unwilling to do it. We thought he was being a big baby about it. He was. We went to Europe. The shows were amazing but Jay definitely did not want to be there. The last show of the tour was a dark night for everyone.
Larry: Jay was recording Blood Visions while he was still in Lost Sounds. He told me that he wanted to do a solo album. They were about to break up but they decided to tour Europe one last time. We had talked about doing another Lost Sounds album. But it got to the point where it wasn’t worth it anymore. They were all miserable working together. Alicja told me she couldn’t be in Lost Sounds anymore. She said that Jay had “a great way of sucking the fun out of everything.” I can totally see that. Jay was pretty intense. Blood Visions is largely about his breakup with Alicja and Lost Sounds. That’s his breakup album. I tried to convince Jay to keep the band together. I thought they had a really good thing going. I’m convinced that had Lost Sounds toured more behind their Self-titled record they could have broke through to a bigger audience. It just fell apart and it was all due to Jay not being able to be in a band with Alicja. I told Jay, “This happened to X. John Doe and Exene split up but they were able to work together still. You can do it too. My friends in the Muffs went through the same thing and they still play together. You can be friends with Alicja and work with her.” Jay did not want to hear that. He said, “If we’re not going out then I can’t work with her.” Jay tried to make life hell for Alicja on that last tour. He was having a ton of fits. He wasn’t pleasant at all.
Post Lost Sounds
Alicja: Jay’s life ended the way it did. I think had he lived for a few more years, he might have been able to deal with his anxiety better. He honestly came from a very disturbed family and living situation. There’s that saying that if you smoke for ten years, it’ll take you ten years to truly feel comfortable with quitting. I don’t know if that’s true, but I think had Jay been away from his family for seventeen or eighteen years—the time he spent with them—he might have been able to come to terms with some of things he went through when he was young.
Larry: I haven’t gone back and listened to much of Jay’s music since he’s passed away. It’s hard for me to listen to his voice. Lost Sounds is a little easier because at least Alicja is on there too. A whole bag of mixed emotions comes up when I hear Jay’s songs. I imagine that will pass over time
Ryan: Is there a Lost Sounds record that stands out to you?
Alicja:Rat’s Brains is the strongest record as a whole. At least I think so. I listened to Future Touch recently because we got it re-mastered. There’s a lot of me on that record, so I’m a little uncomfortable with it. It’s very satisfying when you have these abstract ideas and your band is willing to play them. I wasn’t too happy with the Self-titled record we did for Larry. But I listened to it after Jay’s death and I’m happier with it now then when we released it. I’ll never write songs like that anymore or be in a band like Lost Sounds again. I think my songs with Black Sunday are the ones I would’ve brought to Lost Sounds had we continued. Nervous Patterns were songs that didn’t quite fit the bill with Lost Sounds. River City Tanlines formed in 2004 when Lost Sounds was still going. That was a way for me to do something easier. It was rock. I didn’t want to sing about the end of the world all the time. When you’re in a band with someone you’re in a relationship with, you’re not going to write love songs. You can’t make it that obvious. You feed each other’s creativity in different ways.
Larry: Lost Sounds was my favorite thing Jay ever did. Jay working with Alicja was so cool. It’s a shame they never took it further. They never made a bad record. Jay ditched keyboards after Lost Sounds. Blood Visions has no keyboards on it. That was intentional. It was his reaction to Lost Sounds. It’s too bad because working with synths and keyboards made his work so much stronger.
Lost Lost released on Goner (2012)
Ryan:Lost Lost is a great collection. The version of “Black Coats/White Fear” on there is incredible. It’s very stark and forceful. I think it’s the definitive version of the song.
Alicja:Lost Lost was a great way to close-out Lost Sounds. I love “Black Coats/White Fear”. That’s one of the first songs Jay brought to the band. It’s the same recording that appears on Lost Lost. I remember hearing it for the first time. It had what a 4-track recording brings. You really step inside someone’s brain with home-recorded 4-tracks. It’s a very private moment.
Ryan: “Black Coast/White Fear” is so stark and cold. It paints a picture of war-torn Europe in the early ‘40s, where colors and symbols could signify whether you lived or not.
Alicja: Jay wrote that song about the Columbine massacre.
Ryan: That goes to show you how precocious Jay was with his songwriting. He’d write songs that people could interpret differently—whether it be Europe in '39 or Colorado in '99. He caught the feeling of fear and anxiety in that song.
Alicja: How cheesy would it be to say, “Hey, I just wrote a song about the Columbine High School massacre?” How bad could a song like that be? Of course, Jay’s song didn’t come off that way. “Clones Don’t Love” was about a Middle Easterner’s interpretation of a “typical” American. This was after September 11. Americans are the clones in the songs and Islamic Extremists were getting rid of these zombies. In Lost Sounds, we covered social events but in a way no one was aware of. We were into creating visual pictures instead of taking positions on particular events.
Rich: Alicja was so nice about giving me a cassette or CD-R of the demos she’d make with Jay. Lost Lost shows everyone what was going on in Jay’s head and Alicja’s head. There are tracks on there that I don’t even remember doing, like “Frankenstein Twist.” It’s really cool. That was recorded at the same time as the material that showed up on the Solid Sex Lovie Doll 7". Jay and Alicja recorded so much stuff. I can’t stress enough how important it was to be in a band with Alicja. I didn’t know it at first with Jay, but he went on to have a big role in Lost Sounds. I didn’t see that coming. Jay learned everything in Lost Sounds that he took with him later on. Jay always had it but he developed his skills in Lost Sounds. I watched a Johnny Ramone interview yesterday. It was the last one he ever did. Johnny always knew what was going to happen. He’d tell the other members of the band what to do: “If the vocal mic goes out, Dee Dee, knock it down and mouth 'one, two, three, four. Don’t look scared. Don’t look vulnerable.’” That was Jay’s thing. He understood where Johnny was coming from on all fronts. Had Jay broke things down in a different way, things could have been a whole lot easier. Jay didn’t want to tell everyone what to do although he did it. I don’t know how else to explain it. There were so many jaw-dropping moments: I can’t believe Jay just said that; I can’t believe Alicja just said that. It was raw and honest. I’ve never witnessed anything like that since. Jay didn’t want people messing up. If you did there was going to be a price to pay. People were fearful of Jay. That is true even for me and Alicja at times but we also became aware of Jay’s hidden agenda. You also have to remember that when Jay would go on a tirade of his choosing, Alicja and I were left to clean up the mess. A lot of damage control. So a lot of resentment began to build up concerning Jay. That also added to what was being projected off the stage from all of us and he knew it as well. It was a conscious thing on his part. He was very smart and manipulative that way. Everywhere we went, we played the same intense show. We were so rehearsed. We didn’t want to fuck anything up. We were a regime. It was hard sometimes. I think we had a great run. We put out so much stuff in such a short amount of time. So many tours. We got a lot done considering what was happening in the band. I miss Lost Sounds. I really do. I don’t miss the situations that would come up, but I miss playing the music. I haven’t been challenged like that since. I was getting good at drums. I was becoming a real drummer. It was that constant pressure and practice. When Lost Sounds ended, I never reached that skill level again. I miss Jay too. We fell out after Lost Sounds. We were just getting to a point where we’d call each other every couple of months to check in. And then he died. I was so happy that he’d wear a Lover! shirt I gave him. He didn’t have to do that. He even wore it on an album cover. I think of it as a nod to a friendship that once was.
Larry: I think Lost Sounds almost singlehandedly changed the direction of garage rock. When Memphis Is Dead came out, it caught me by surprise. It was a weird record—part goth but with hints of black metal in it. All these elements that never would have been in a garage record before were there. As they got bigger, bands like Blank Dogs and the Intelligence started popping up. They were using synths but were somehow considered garage rock still. I don’t think that would have happened had Lost Sounds not done it first and paved the way. The people in UV Race who are really young, they’re huge Lost Sounds fans. That’s one of their favorite bands. Daniel (Stewart) from the UV Race—he played in Total Control as well—he brought Jay over to Australia. They found out about The Screamers through Lost Sounds. It’s so weird. A number of young people have gotten into them through Lost Sounds.
In terms of kinetic and creative energy personified, you’ll likely find no better example than Henry Rollins. At this point, the number of hyphens and creative ventures associated with him have essentially made Rollins a symbol for maintaining absolute focus and