It's 2005 at the Emerald Lounge in Phoenix. Alan George Ledergerber starts his set, strips down to his underpants and throws his shoes and clothes into the crowd. One of the shoes hits some guy's girlfriend in the face. The guy throws it back at Ledergerber. "He's about to get up and fight me," he says. "Then I give him a thumbs up and he's OK with the whole thing. Then I proceed to smash my face in with a guitar and wander around the bar in my underpants, bloody and taunting people for the next 20 minutes or so. That was the end of the set."
He's fudged the truth to venues on the road to get in, calling his work ambient electronica or experimental jazz. He's toured extensively. "There's usually somewhere to play, whether it's a DIY spot, a house party or a bar," he says.
Ledergerber hasn’t driven a car in 10 years. He hit the East Coast via Greyhound in August 2005 and the West Coast in August 2006. "You just gotta go sometimes," he says. He managed to make it to all his shows except a couple, traveling with a just a backpack full of his pedals, a small mixing board, some clothes and a handful of 7-inches. He made some money on the tour by not spending any on gas, but it wasn't entirely comfortable. There were times, he says, where he just wouldn't get any sleep. Bus stations are either in an area's downtown, or five miles out of town, meaning he and his backpack would have to walk those miles in the August heat.
“You might as well just act crazy, so you at least get people to stay so they can say they saw all this crazy bullshit."
Though Ledergerber has done numerous releases on vinyl and 7-inches over the years, his latest effort is his first full-length CD. The Young Invisibles is part of Albuquerque microlabel The Lotus Sound's handmade series. One hundred copies will be made. The CD release on Saturday, May 3, at Stove promises four hours of nonstop music. Literally. With eight acts, the performers will set up around the space, and when one stops, the next will begin.
Ledergerber, a local noise musician notorious for extreme performances, laughs while he tells the shoe story. Why does he do it? Sometimes, he says, he's just mad because his gear isn't working so he starts throwing it around. Sometimes he's just too drunk to know what the hell's going on. "Sometimes you're in a bad crowd environment anyway, so you might as well just act crazy, so you at least get people to stay so they can say they saw all this crazy bullshit."
These days, the man more commonly known by his initials (AGL) has mellowed out, in sound and crazy bullshit. Venues were complaining about insurance liabilities. He nearly got banned from a few. "My body couldn't take any more of that, really," he says. "I've been going for a more minimalist, ambient feel, as opposed to some of the harsher things I've done in the past."
Many noise musicians will use feedback and distortion to create incredibly harsh tones the whole time, a tactic Ledergerber says doesn't have enough variation. "I'm more interested in different modulation tones," he says. "I do things that are more pretty and atmospheric."
With six guitar pedals and simplistic instrument loops as a sound source, an AGL show is liable to be anything. Some of it is rehearsed, some totally improvised. "There's basic ideas I can repeat," he says. "You know, like Coltrane."