The Flesh Second with Seamus Dalton of Monomyth

Seamus Dalton

Seamus Dalton of the Halifax indie band Monomyth has a strange habit. It’s an experiment he picked up from a treatise written in the 1950s. It’s uncertain whether his habit influenced his band’s latest record, Saturnalia Regalia, but it has resonated through his travels and tours.

I first read Jion-Jole Henderson’s 1959 treatise “The Flesh Second; Full Illumination of the Self through the Other” in 2010. “…and each day, finding a place on the body which does not itch, scrape a bearable amount of skin from your self and place it in the jar. When the flesh second resembles a mound or hummock, you will refrain and seal the jar tightly so that nature can no longer assert itself on the second” (p.53). I itched. It was taxing. Finally my flesh second was forming. I could hear brief notes and abrupt hums coming from the jar.

Do you like your own band? Would I like my own band if it wasn’t my band? My hope was my flesh second would help me digest my own music. I would lay the jar down near me and listen. Eventually I heard a hum. I recognized it. Oh god, it’s the Mars Volta. Not quite, but close.

“Do not scrape from your favourite places on the body. Instead, avoid the areas you are ashamed of” (p.55). I tried, but somehow my flesh second was burdening me with a hum I never intended it to project. Annoying.

Monomyth was playing in Minneapolis in 2013. We were listening to Lauren Hill in someone’s apartment before the show. A man was telling me how he used to see Semisonic play before anyone knew who they were. They were “way better” back then. I arrived at the venue wearing a borrowed denim jacket that was too small for me. One of the members of the opening band (Spaceship something something?) approached me. “I used to wear a denim jacket when we played, but “the boss” told me that denim is a subtle fabric and doesn’t sink in with the audience in the first 15 seconds. Now I wear my Police shirt every gig”. Interesting.

That same year Monomyth got to play a few shows outside our continent. In Hungary, we played with a band called Boring Earth. I stood behind the drummer to get a good view of the crazy fills she was throwing down. I heard a hum coming from the room we had stored our gear in. A flesh second was stuffed in a gig bag with “BORING EARTH 4EVR” spray-painted across the side. I didn’t recognize the hum until I broke it down into its parts. Every part could be placed on a locality (both time and space). Jane Birkin, the Roland TR-505, those backwards Modest Mouse songs, Slim Whitman’s “Rose Marie”, “In Those Jeans”. As a whole, it was the future, and I didn’t know it, because you can never meet the future.

A youngster came up to me after the show. “I really liked that second song!” Oh ya, thanks, that’s super old, we’ve been playing it for a while. “It reminds me of Less Than Jake”. That’s weird, I never really listened to that band. “Who did you write it for?” Uh it wasn’t really written for anyone, sometimes it’s just fun to write and play a song for its own sake until you get bored with it and never want to play it again. I gave the youngster my flesh second. “Sweet, I love the Mars Volta!”

Monomyth’s Saturnalia Regalia is out July 22 on Mint Records.

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