Friday, February 8, 2008

Interview

There's a lot of interesting stuff going on for me as a musician. Thank God for the art of the interview, conducted by an anonymous friend:

First of all, give us some Hobbyhorse-related news.
Over New Year's, I recorded my stuff for the Hobbyhorse album, which I'm guessing will really be titled The Ballad Of... and not Alone Or In Pairs. I still prefer the latter, since Rundgren fans will see the derivative. (It's not even a good album of his; Runt and A Wizard, A True Star are my favorites.) Anyway, the tracks are all done, Eric has to piece together the best take of this with the best take of that to make the song complete.
How did it go?
It felt more like sessionwork. Since the tracks were already done before I had even heard most of the demos, and the digital rhythms were unfortunately inseparable from the master tracks, recording on my end didn't feel much at all like being in a band. We re-recorded "Fuzzy Zoeller House Party '98" from the bottom-up (yours truly contributed a truly shitty bassline), but other than that I was behind the kit, Eric behind the computer. A few times Blake (Thomas) and I messed around and Eric recorded it, but I highly doubt it will turn up anywhere. We made some stabs at "Stroll On" and "I'm Not Talking" by The Yardbirds, then a really shitty rendition of "Misirlou" and a reggae tune, stereotypically named "Smoke Pot."
What do you see in the future for Hobbyhorse?
I'll probably always be Eric's go-to guy as a drummer while I'm within 150 miles of him, but Hobbyhorse is his thing, really. I'm just along for the ride. It's a chance for him to electrify his songwriting, which is good whether it's just him and an acoustic or him on three tracks (vocal, guitar, bass) and me providing the drum parts. Just being able to work with a musician of his caliber for this long has been a blessing from the music gods. If the whole thing fell apart tomorrow, I could go to my grave cherishing that much.
That's awful grim, you aren't predicting all that, are you?
If we were to become what I'd call a fully functional band, we would have to expand our line-up, and we're already having a tough time with me being in Bloomington and him in New Albany. Maybe we'll become a pair that features an assortment of bass players, keyboardists, etc., with Eric and I remaining the core members, but the thought of a second album is projecting way into the future for me.
Were there delays in recording?
We started talking about recording in September and October of 2007, it wouldn't be another two and a half months before it actually happened. And that is nobody's fault, I had a busy semester both academically and in my personal life. When we did get together it was more catching up and hanging out than talking business. Thankfully, my winter vacation was pretty laid-back, so we made it happen then. It made for a great way to end a real roller-coaster of a year.
Any chance of a show or series of shows?
I really don't know how we'd play live, were such an event to occur. The likelihood of that is unfortunately slim, as this semester is mentally taxing and I'm still in Grad School Application Limbo. Another reason for this probably not happening is the fact that transporting the drums, as I learned three weeks ago, is an all-day thing. The actual loading part was nothing; Eric and I just love sitting around and generating hot air. Still, the drive from New Albany to Bloomington was a bitch, especially going thirty hours without sleep.
How did that happen?
I had gone back to Seymour to catch Todd Rundgren with my dad, my brother, and his fiance up in Indianapolis. It was the loudest damn thing I've experienced in my life. It was painfully loud, and I can say now in retrospect that it made the show suck. Had I brought earplugs, it would have been trumped only by my seeing Ray Davies in March 2006. We bumped into Glenn Gass and his wife there, and I have to say introducing even a mellow, non-academic brand of professor as Dr. Gass to my dad was a trippy experience. Still, Glenn was one of my top choices of "Professor I would introduce one or both parents to." They chatted briefly about the guitars and effect pedals.
My ears were ringing so bad I could not bring myself to sleep that night, so I didn't. I went down to New Albany, already prepped to catch some z's before I even left Seymour. Eat Me, Drink Me kept me company on the way down - a touch of nostalgia, as I first listened to that album coming BACK from New Albany after getting back from Alabama - and I perked up once I engaged in some human interaction with Eric.
I stayed way too long, though, just shooting the shit. It wasn't until after sundown that I left. I don't need any other proof that there is a God, because I drove something like 110 miles - one extended blink away from falling asleep at the wheel - and I made it back to Bloomington in one piece.
Do you think you used up one of your nine lives that night?
I'm so sure of that. In a parallel dimension, I fell asleep at the wheel and died. I still can't fathom how I did it other than a guardian angel. That and some raucous punk music with the window rolled down, keeping the car a brisk twenty degrees. That's without wind chill!
What has become of your association with Flaming Chip Records (FCR)?
I was only associated with it because Eric and I formed Hobbyhorse after leaving The Heliocentrics about 13 months ago. It was the label that distributed Eric's stuff, so by default that would be Hobbyhorse's label. One by one, the MySpace was created, we jammed like it was going out of style, Eric kept writing songs for both the band and his solo album...
Then came a barrage of years-old turmoil reignited after the beach trip in August and a barrage of Facebook notes by Rick, Ian, Anthony, Eric, Sarah, and Daniel. I had thought there was some reconciliation when I saw Anthony at Eric's gig on 9/30/07, but I had assumed wrong.
Without divulging details that are still on some levels fuzzy to me, especially as "the new guy" in the picture (or as Rick lovingly dubbed me, "Fuckin' Johnny Comelately"), the main underlying point was that Eric felt he had no choice but to say that either all this bullshit gets worked out or he is going to leave FCR.
So what happened?
Well, again, to make a long story brief...Eric left FCR. I told him at the time he gave Anthony this ultimatum that as a member of his band I stood unflinchingly in support of whatever he chose to do. Some talk jokingly came of the boys staging an FCR mutiny and making it THEIR label, but the next best thing happened.
What?
Well, cut to: Mid-December 2007. After coming up to Bloomington for Andy Hollinden's show, Eric filled me in that nothing had changed, things had certainly not gotten better, and dick had gotten resolved. So he, Rick, and Blake decided to form Kyle McCafferty Records. It was originally to be abbreviated K-Mix Rex, but it's turned into Caf Recs. Again, by default, I would be on this label as part of Hobbyhorse.
Just as a drummer?
Apparently not. Eric made mention of me recording something for the good of the cause, and not necessarily music.
Are you going to pull a Biafra/Rollins thing and do some spoken word?
More like I'll go around recording whatever, be it conversations, sound effects, maybe some remix work in the same vein as my Beatles mash-up from last March. I would like to add that that piece, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Suite," would most definitely be a contender for my album.
Can you divulge any further hints?
Well, as I've indicated before, I have run into some microphone trouble, so once I get set up with another one of those I'll be in business. I'm not one for unleashing spoiler-esque details regarding creative content, especially since so much of what I want to do can evolve so rapidly. I mean, there's the fact that what I intend on recording is so off-the-cuff that that factor alone will shape the tone of the pieces, never mind happy accidents. I predict it will be a shoestring-budget version of Lumpy Gravy.
So music, dialog...any weird snorting sound effects?
Not so much. I know plenty of interesting people here in town that could yield some fascinating subject material, so there's the dialog. I might bastardize the Hobbyhorse demos into background music, as well as the few homespun tracks I made back in September. I'm also sitting on a treasure trove of crap from my videos, going as far back as the summer of 2006.
So hypothetically, I could take some dialog from then with some dialog from now and have it so Scott Johnson is having a conversation with Laura Furman, whom he's never met.
I can't make too many promises in this department, and as such I shouldn't. It will be weird.
Any more mash-ups?
A couple have occurred to me. I mean, that Beatles one just snapped together like a puzzle. I got a request to do one for the solo Beatles, someone suggested a Kinks mash-up, someone else even tossed Zappa into the fray.
What's the likelihood of any of those?
Well, I don't know. One thing that pissed me off on that Love album was that they slowed down the intro to "Blackbird" so it would synch up to "Yesterday." It sounded like the damn song from Brokeback Mountain! So to that end, I've got a few picky rules, like don't mess with pitch - audiophiles out there like myself will have a shit-fit if I did that.
I don't know, solo Beatles would be a stretch. I don't really think any of them had stuff that sounded remotely similar. George and Ringo I could have some stuff overlap, and Paul aped John on "Let Me Roll It," but I don't think it could go four ways.
With double the albums put out by The Beatles, it would be tough to do The Kinks. I'd hate to just reappropriate their greatest hits - Ray had the band do that back on SNL in 1977 with an "oldies" medley - but I can't think of too many people that would sprout an erection if they heard "Lavender Hill," "Mick Avory's Underpants," "Slum Kids," "Kentucky Moon," and "Artificial Light" all jammed into seven minutes. Maybe Blake Thomas, but that's about it.
Now, I just mentioned that The Kinks having something like 26 official releases is enough of a trial. Um, Zappa? We're looking at 80+ albums, all my bootlegs, variance in sound quality from the moderately recorded Freak Out! to some shitty official live material (Fillmore East) to live material so well-done it sounds studio done (Sheik Yerbouti), slick studio sounds (Joe's Garage, One Size Fits All), orchestral pieces, and literally all-digital recordings (Jazz From Hell, etc.) That would be tough, having to decide literally what element of Frank's music to showcase in a mash-up.
At least Frank championed that whole xenochrony thing, so rhythmically it wouldn't necessarily have to make sense - witness "Friendly Little Fingers" on Zoot Allures: completely separate tracks melded together to make a relatively cohesive track. But then again, he almost exclusively did that with guitar solos, not songs.
So...
The jury's still out on the whole "what's gonna be on the album" thing.
You mentioned bringing your drums to Bloomington rather than Seymour. What's going on?
I auditioned back in September for a local metal group called Overhand. I really missed playing after doing it all summer long, and especially while in the Zappa class. All the discussion of tightly-knit ensembles doing intricate music was killing me. I consider it the musical equivalent of looking at porn and not being able to jack off.
How did the audition go?
Apparently it went great, the drummer I was replacing I learned really liked me, and the rest of the band thought well of me, too.
So what happened?
I declined. Their style didn't really mesh with mine. Their drummer, Bryan, was bitchin'. It was clear to me hearing him play that he was rooted in jazz drumming, and that's an approach I couldn't musically bring to the table. But everyone was very cool and understanding about it. Their lead singer, Joel Barker, promised me at some point we would work together.
And what is the status of Overhand?
Bryan left because he was shipped out to Iraq, their keyboardist is moving or maybe already moved to San Diego, and things were I guess just getting stale. They all seemed like great guys, but Joel tapped me early last month about being his drummer for a new group.
Do tell.
Well, the guitarist (Alex Haidar) and the bassist (Andrew Davis) both knew Joel from work, so we sat down on a Sunday afternoon and discussed what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go as a band. It seemed we had similar goals in mind, or were at least agreeable enough with one another that things would go smoothly.
Does the band have a name?
As it turns out, no matter what name we choose in this day and age is already taken by some other band. The Heliocentrics had to change their name (or at least felt they had to) because of a jazz group with the same moniker. We've chosen Viewers Like You as our band's name, and after a search found other bands calling themselves that all over the place, from reggae to whatever.
Are there any other name options?
We're not too worried about it. I'm pretty sure we'll never need to worry about sharing the bill with any of these other bands. Besides, the only way to create a truly unique name is to have one of those stupid, semi-cutesy, uber-trendy, waaay esoteric and excessively long band names like all the fuckin' "indie rock" groups that the hipsters bow down to. The rest about VLY is under wraps. We've got a MySpace, but it's going to be launched for real on 2/14/08 with pictures and some audio of the band members discussing our formation, our present, and our future.
Why such harsh words about hipsters?
They're phonies. I don't know how it is elsewhere, but given that indie is a word derived from independent, I just find it extra fishy with all the musical groupthink going on among that culture. Not subculture - it's a culture. These guys can tell you all you need to know about The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, but don't know shit from shine-ola about Sleepwalker or Schoolboys In Disgrace. Hell, you'll be lucky if you find one that owns a copy of Arthur.
Despite the hatred of corporate greed they still read Rolling Stone, they'll tout how much they miss old school Nickelodeon shows, and all the modern shit they dig all sounds the same. Layers of acoustic guitars, tuned percussion, tambourines...it's all ripped off either The Kinks, Bowie, Simon & Garfunkel, The Velvet Underground, or The Smiths. It's not even a good rip-off. I'll give Oasis that much. Sure, they ripped off The Beatles hard-core, but at least it sounded good. This is all shit.
Is there any modern stuff you enjoy?
The White Stripes, Manson's new album was great, and other acts still carrying the garage rock torch without unplugging and completely pussying out. They're the ones that are keeping rock and roll at least on life support.
What would you like to see in indie music?
I don't necessarily despise paying tribute to your idols, just do somebody who's worth it and do it well. I'd like to see the indie rockers emphasize more on the rocker part, enough of this coffeeshop-frequenting, sweater-donning crap. Put on those t-shirts you've mothballed since Wes Anderson began dictating both your dress code and your iPods and rock out with your cock out.
Is there any other genre of music you feel needs some prodding?
Punk music. Stop pandering to the same imaginary 12 year old boys and girls that the marketing bigwigs at the labels aim their sales at. Get your asses out of Hot Topic and leave the stragglers for the emo cutters to prey upon. Put some substance into your lyrics. What happened to Rock The Vote? Did it only matter when there was a fleeting chance Bush could get knocked off his high horse and onto his scabby, power-usurping ass? It seems now that since Bush has got less than a year left to carry on, we really don't care who replaces him.
But we should. Both McCain and Clinton will goosestep us into a war with Iran, one that will stretch our armed resources so thin that we may very well see another draft. Take good note that the USA Patriot Act is still in effect, domestic wiretapping has been extended, and the government is refusing to investigate the waterboarding-as-torture allegations. Despite their seemingly thorough disdain for such policies, the Dems want this just as much as Bush and his band of outlaws did.
Unlike the other Clinton, this one is bound to make some major mistakes in terms of policy-making. McCain wants us to stay on in Iraq until 2108 evidently...
Any suggestions?
I'm not kidding: get your passports in order and start shopping for plane tickets. It doesn't matter if it's Canada, France, Cuba, Finland, wherever. If you don't like where this country's headed, get out. It's one option the conservatives have been recommending to us liberals since 9/12/01, and I just might have to take them up on it.
Finally, what were your New Year's resolutions?
To finally kick smoking, to be nicer to my fellow man, to remain actively political even if it means getting blacklisted, possibly organizing an angry demonstration on a dreary Wednesday this November, and keeping my private life private. That's what got me into trouble with my blog back last March. I'll discuss music, I'll talk about the band, I'll tell you about car trouble...but what I do and with whom remains between me and whoever she may be.

1 comment:

Shelley said...

Good interview. It's as if I just read a magazine article about some new artist.

Well, except the last part. I mean, most magazines don't publish such political talk (they just don't want to get in any trouble).

Was I the one who suggested The Kinks mash-up? I beleive I was. I still say go for it.

Oh, and bitter much?

Good idea about keeping your life private. That's how I live my life. Private like a fox.