Favorite Things: Joe Haines and his modified gasmask

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Some might recognize Joe Haines for his day job as a van driver for CATA/SpecTran, others might know him as the president of Blind Alley Comics, a small-press, Lansing-based comic book group. He is also the creator and illustrator of his own comic, “Strange Adventures of Bone Boy.” But Haines, in some circles, is best known for his work in Nocturnal Aviators in Action, a Lansing band that’s been on hiatus for the last five years. His favorite thing is an oddity from his past work in that loud and hyper group. Here’s what he had to say:

Back in 2006, my bandmate Ben Southwell bought me this gasmask at the Foxhole PX store on S. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. We used it for a photo shoot we were doing for our band, Nocturnal Aviators in Action. But I didn’t want to let it go after that.

A few months later, I decided to remove the filter canister thing, put a microphone in a customized empty Monster Energy can and duct tape that to the schnoz. I then ran the microphone through a couple guitar effects pedals and out a Pignose portable amp strapped to my waist and went to the Mac’s Bar Halloween Party and costume contest. I won a fifth of Jameson.

The gasmask itself is useful for a number of reasons:

1.) It’s scary.

2.) It’s weird.

3.) I’m a notoriously shy vocalist, and wearing that mask while screaming my head off and sounding awesome helps get me over that.

4.) It’s both a “shield” and a “weapon.” Before we would play a show, I’d always be a little nervous, but once we’re rolling and everything works, I’m fine. I just enjoy performing the ultimate catharsis in real time.

More recently, I’ve performed on-and-off as Noiseghost. It’s mostly been “on” as hell the last couple years. Right now, we’re recording our first LP, “Psychodelic Island.” Beyond that, I also collaborate with a band called Decrepticon, and together we have become the most despicable force to ever rock your face off. Of course, I still use this old gasmask at our shows and about twice a week at rehearsals.

(This interview was edited and condensed by Rich Tupica. If you have a suggestion for Favorite Things, email rich@lansingcitypulse.com.)

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