“No wrong turns – they do not exist. You cannot diverge from the path – it’s impossible.” Daniel Higgs
Inimitable and visionary, the singer, musician, poet, painter, and tattoo-artist Daniel Higgs is a modern-day troubadour, or better yet perhaps a shaman from the post-industrial state. Lyrically and visually Higgs has constantly turned symbols and concepts in upon themselves, simultaneously reinventing them and destroying them, exposing for us the reality beyond words and concepts that surrounds us at all times, here in the eternal present.
I first became aware of Daniel Higgs as the front man for the totally unfuckwithable Dischord band Lungfish back in the 90’s while wandering through NYC. With the appearance of Ahab fresh off of the Pequod, Higgs writhed and metamorphosized on stage along with the heaviest band I have ever heard: Lungfish’s sound ranged from simple, spare and beautiful to the roar of having your head duct-taped to a truck engine, all the while with an Eastern sitar drone sensibility which lent the perfect backdrop for Higgs’ lyrical incantations of existential search and wandering. Lungfish – both lyrically and musically – had a profound impact on my own quest and journey, and their sound and message were quickly embraced by the other members of the Komuso Collective.
Our paths crossed in 1996 at The Casbah in San Diego. Lungfish was in town and so was I, and the members of the Collective weren’t going to miss it. Before the show I saw Daniel at the bar, introduced myself and asked if the band needed a place to sleep that night. His eyes lit up and he responded enthusiastically that they did indeed. After Lungfish steamrolled everyone in the house, we helped them load their gear in their van and they followed us back to where the highway ends and drops off into the sea: the far-away mythical left-coast land of O.B., where the Collective had a compound run by the bearded Grizzle and I slept on a mattress behind the refrigerator. The guys from Lungfish kicked back in the compound that night, happy to not be sleeping in the van and getting a kick out of the Collective’s ongoing project of splicing dub reggae soundtracks over 1980’s Kung-Fu flicks. (To be totally clear, Asa did sleep in the van, by his own choice, in order to guard the gear.) It was Daniel, now that I think of it, who recommended to me that night that I read Moby Dick, which brings us to the previous Ahab and Pequod reference. Funny how things come full-circle.
The next day we all rolled out to L.A. for their next gig, the band put the entire Komuso Collective on the guest list, and afterwards we went our separate ways among jovial handshakes and appreciative hugs. A year or two later, existentially restless and perceiving a kindred itinerant spirit in Daniel, I wrote him a long letter culminating in this question: from what he’s learned in his journey, “How exactly is one supposed to accomplish turning his back on the world?” I received a post card from Daniel a few months later, with a simple answer that has never left me. It read:
“Every time I try to turn my back on the world, I turn around and there it is.”