This is how it all went down: I got one or two of my facts twist turned upside down in the obituary I wrote for Lookout! Records (exclamation point optional), so Lookout founder Lawrence “Larry Livermore” Hayes swooped in to correct me. Thankful and not one to look a gift punk in the mouth, I asked Larry if I could shoot him few questions RE: Lookout’s problems, its legacy, where his feelings are today regarding the whole deal, blah blah. He said yes, and below you’ll find our delicious exchange.
JG2: Prior to the episode in 1996 or ’97 where Screeching Weasel decided they weren’t happy with their contract and demanded a new one, what was the most challenging or aggravating thing you had to deal with at Lookout? Had it been pretty smooth sailing up to that point in terms of artist/label relations?
LARRY LIVERMORE: For the most part, things had gone smoothly up to that point. By the way, before I go further, I’d like to clear up one thing—while it’s often referred to as a “Screeching Weasel” dispute, that’s really not accurate. It was, from start to finish, a Ben Weasel dispute. I never had a problem with other members of the band. In fact, some of them privately expressed frustration and even disgust with the way that Ben compulsively turned a good relationship into a poisonous one. That being said, the contract dispute I had with Ben, while unpleasant and destructive, was only the most extreme example of a problem that began to emerge in the year or two following Green Day’s breakthrough to major label success. A byproduct of that success was that Lookout got a great deal of attention from the mainstream media, and both our sales—of all our releases, not just Green Day’s—and income increased massively. “More money, more problems” may be a cliché, but clichés usually contain a kernel of truth. While the problems were mostly manageable, the most difficult aspect was that certain bands, or individuals, in Ben Weasel’s case, began feeling that we should be spending more of that money promoting them, on the theory that if we did, they’d be achieving the kind of success Green Day was.
JG2: So how do you navigate that kind of thing? What do you say, or what did you say to those complaining?
LL: When I pointed out that Green Day and Operation Ivy and, ironically, Screeching Weasel, who were our third best-selling band, accomplished what they did with little to no promotion, [the other artists] would just get mad. I’d say things like, “You can’t buy popularity. If you want to be as rich and famous as Green Day, try working and touring as hard as Green Day, and writing songs as good as Green Day.” Needless to say, that didn’t always go over so well, especially with Ben Weasel. The funny thing is that Ben was always very happy with Lookout and the amount of money he was making there, and for years told everybody just that. Then, all of a sudden, he wasn’t. To be fair, there were other bands who asked for more money and more promo, and who wanted Lookout to change the way we did things and act more like a major label. It’s just that with most of them it wasn’t such a big deal, just more of a point of discussion, where with Ben it became a very big deal indeed.
JG2: When Lookout started having more serious problems after your departure in 1997, how did that affect you? Were you already too removed to care?
LL: I was not anxious to jump back into the record business, but I had made it clear [to the new owners] that I was available as a resource, to answer questions, negotiate with bands, or even step in on a short term basis and manage some projects, but I wasn’t ever asked for help. Quite the contrary, in fact; most often I would find out about Lookout’s problems from other sources—usually the bands who weren’t getting paid. I think there was a feeling on the new owners’ part that they wanted to do it their own way, or maybe they were afraid I’d be all “I told you so” if they admitted they were having problems. I’d like to believe I wouldn’t have been like that, and also that if I’d been approached early enough, I might have been able to help them sort things out, but I have no way of knowing whether that’s true. Certainly my own management practices, even in Lookout’s heyday, weren’t perfect, but when everything is going your way and all the records are selling well, mistakes and poor planning can be glossed over more easily than when things are starting to go downhill.
JG2: But you had no moment where you were utterly compelled to try and take command back, to right the ship?
LL: Well, because of the way we’d arranged my departure—I handed over full ownership of the company—there was no way I could [do that] unless I was asked to. That made it pretty frustrating when Lookout began getting a reputation for not paying its bands, because even though there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, many people blamed me for it. Which is understandable; you can’t expect the general public to keep up with who owns or controls which record label, and for the first 10 years of Lookout’s existence, it had been me more than any other person who was identified with Lookout in the public’s mind.
JG2: Did the carryover from that hurt your own personal state of mind?
LL: Yeah, it was hard on me to watch what was happening. It was like seeing a loved one suffer and die from a long, lingering illness, knowing all the while there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.
JG2: Is there one record you can point to in Lookout’s catalog and say, “Yes, this is the prime example of what we were trying to do or put forth?”
LL: Oh man, there are so many. Operation Ivy, of course, and both Green Day records, but in terms of our less well-known releases, I’d have to point to Nuisance and Brent’s TV, both of whom were kind of niche bands who came from Northern California, from the more rural part of the state where I was living when Lookout started. Each band captured, in their own way, something extremely specific to the local culture they emerged from. Neither band was, strictly speaking, punk in the normal sense of the word, but they expressed to me everything that was best and most important about the DIY punk scene. And it’s entirely possible that one or both of those bands never would have gotten the kind of exposure they did, or have left the recorded legacy they did, if there hadn’t been a label like Lookout. That’s the sort of thing I’m proudest of.
JG2: Is there any band Lookout never got hold of that you wish you had?
LL: If you mean in terms of making lots more money, it would have been nice if we’d managed to put out albums by Rancid, the Offspring, AFI, and Jawbreaker, all of whom I halfheartedly tried to get on Lookout. Maybe [we] could have if I’d tried a little harder. But the first three of those bands all did great for themselves, maybe better than they could have done on Lookout, so it’s probably just as well they ended up where they did. Jawbreaker, I think, might have done better on Lookout, so even though I’m not the world’s hugest Jawbreaker fan—I like them, but I’m not a crazed obsessive like, um, certain people I know—I would have liked to put out their albums for them. Another place I missed the boat was when I told Crimpshrine that they weren’t ready to release a full-length album, so they put out what is now the incredibly rare Lame Gig Contest on a couple small labels. Boy, was I wrong about that.
JG2: Hey man, it happens.
LL: But what most people don’t fully get about me is that I was never mainly concerned about bands that would sell records. If I was, I could have signed up a lot of those baggy shorts bands before Fat Wreck even got going. It wasn’t worth it to me to have to deal with bands that I didn’t enjoy listening to and hanging out with just for the sake of making money. If I’d wanted to do that, I could have just gotten a job at a record company instead of starting my own label. Labels that are successful, not just in terms of sales, but that leave a lasting legacy, generally tend to reflect the values and aesthetics of the person or people who ran them. That’s as true for labels like Fat or Epitaph or Kill Rock Stars or K as it was for Lookout. Conversely, I think it’s where Lookout went astray after I left: they no longer had a sound that was distinctly a Lookout sound. It was more like they were just throwing all sorts of things up against the wall to see if anything would stick.
JG2: It’s been over a year since Lookout ceased operation. How do you look back on it all? Is it still some huge part of your life, do you feel, or have you let go and let it be in the past?
LL: It was a huge part of my life, and to many people, it’s the only part of my life that they know or care about. Obviously I have other interests and goals, but that’s the one that most folks know, and it’s usually one of the first things they ask me about. In fact, lately I seem to be getting almost as many requests for interviews as I was back in the glory days. Don’t ask me why. I guess maybe this is what it’s like being part of history. I can’t complain. It was an amazing adventure, and though it didn’t end as well as it began, we had a pretty good run, and I think we did our part to change—and hopefully improve—the kind and quality of music that reaches the ears of the public. More importantly, I hope we set an example for how other bands and other labels can make their way in the world without having to make compromises or crappy deals with the traditional music industry. There’s a whole network of touring bands and clubs and performance spaces and distribution channels that didn’t exist when we started out, and I’d like to think we played at least some part in helping that to develop.
JG2: So it turns out you’re kind of a woodsy guy. You ever see any of those brown recluse spiders while you’ve been livin’ up there on Spy Rock?
LL: Brown recluse spiders don’t live in that part of California. We had plenty of black widows, but they never gave me any problems. Scorpions turned up pretty often, too, often in the woodpile, but once I found one—don’t ask me how it got there—waggling its stinger tail at me in the kitchen sink. Our bass player from [the band] the Lookouts, Kain Kong, his mom stepped on [a scorpion] in her kitchen and it stung her in the foot…she got a little sick, there was no real harm done. Our scorpions weren’t as poisonous as the ones farther south. We also had quite a few rattlesnakes, but the cats usually killed and ate them if they got too close to the house. However, one bit my dog, and she nearly died from that. And of course there’s bobcats and mountain lions. I never even saw a mountain lion myself, but a girl I knew came face to face with one when she was climbing up a cliff. She just let go and dropped back down the cliff in a hurry.
JG2: What’s the most dangerous animal you’ve personally encountered out in that wilderness?
LL: My biggest adventure was with a bear. I mean, there were lots of bears up there, but for the first ten years or so I never saw one near my house. But then one decided he liked the looks of my place, and ended up smashing my kitchen to pieces. We had a scary showdown, which you can read about in my book Spy Rock Memories, coming out on Don Giovanni this June. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but I can reveal that I ended up not getting eaten.
JG2: Oh Larry, you old huckleberry.
Between 1994 and 1997 basic cable was haunted by an irritable, potty-mouthed water fowl who really only got away with neglecting/abusing his family, friends, and co-workers because he was animated. Yet “Duckman” wasn’t just another zany post-”Ren & Stimpy” squiggle fest—razor sharp wit and touching pathos were expertly sewn into this outlandish world for nearly every one of the show’s half hour installments (and it was all brought to life by the amazing voice talents of Jason Alexander, Nancy Travis, and Gregg Berger, et al). Today “Duckman” is firmly enshrined in tv’s cult canon, a forbearer to the “Family Guys” and “American Dads” of the world, albeit far smarter and more roundly satisfying.
Duckman and his brood were all the creation of artist Everett Peck, a Californian if not by birth than at least by heart (he called me from a beach-side bar for this interview). Here now for JG2Land Peck looks back at his CableACE Award-winning series, the struggles within, and what if any shadow Howard the Duck cast on his beloved Erick Duckman.
JG2: Was there concern on your end with transforming Duckman from a comic book to a television series? Were you afraid of your vision becoming corrupted?
EVERETT PECK: Well, the funny thing is the comic and the show were developed simultaneously. The comic wasn’t published yet, and I was doing some unrelated freelance work for [the production company] Klasky Csupo. Gábor Csupo asked me, “Hey, do you have any ideas for shows?” And I said, “Well, I’ve been working on this comic…” They saw Duckman and liked it, so we entered into agreement to develop it. But yeah, there’s always a concern like that, though I kinda set the tone with the comic—all the basic relationships were already there, and all the characters, like Cornfeld and King Chicken, Bernice, et cetera. And I felt confident in Gábor. So we started pitching it to networks.
JG2: Whom besides USA did you pitch?
EP: We went to FOX—well, first we went to Paramount, and they really got on board with it. So with Paramount we went to USA, who were looking for an animated adult series, and we went to FOX, and at that time “The Simpsons”…was in like its second season. Everything was kinda up in the air in terms of prime time animation on television. No one was sure it would work. So we pitched to FOX and USA simultaneously. FOX offered us a two script deal; USA offered thirteen episodes on air, basically a full season. So we went for the sure thing. And I have to say, USA were very open to what we were doing or trying to do. We always intended “Duckman” to be an adult show. Y’know, “The Simpsons” has something for adults and it had something for kids, but we strictly wanted to be for adults. I’m not sure FOX would have let us do that.
JG2: Did you have any issues with Jason Alexander, the voice of Duckman, being on “Seinfeld” at the same time, or did the scheduling just always work out?
EP: Well, at that time even “Seinfeld” had only been going for a couple seasons. It wasn’t the mega hit it would become. So Jason Alexander was still basically an unknown guy. As “Seinfeld” became so popular, yeah, it got a little weird [laughs], but the thing about Jason is he has such great comic timing, he can land all your jokes, he can talk a mile a minute if that’s what you need—he worked out perfectly even when things were weird.
JG2: Were there any other “names” in the running for Duckman? I know you auditioned seventy-ish people.
EP: We did, but I intentionally sort of went for obscure people, like Matt [Groening] did for “The Simpsons.” I don’t think there were any other standouts.
JG2: Earlier you said USA didn’t really note your show very much, but I have to wonder, were they behind that bit in the third season where you had the cast of “Weird Science,” the show “Duckman” immediately followed or preceded, appear as King Chicken’s hostages?
EP: [Laughs] Yeah, that was a USA thing. That was one of the instances were they did meddle. We really—we being myself, Jeff Reno, and Ron Osborne, the two main “Duckman” writers—we were really resistant to that, although I should say we weren’t opposed to doing topical things. I didn’t want to make the show too topical. [That can] really date the show. I wanted to deal with more universal issues, like love, sex, competition.
JG2: What would you say was the hardest aspect of the entire “Duckman” production?
EP: I think one thing was, there was just a constant struggle keep the scripts short enough. We tried to do forty pages or under. Doing that made the animation production much easier. Sometimes we’d have finished animation we had to cut—the show had to be 22 minutes, and to accommodate that we’d have to cut out ten minutes sometimes. Most of the scenes cut dealt with visuals—dialogue always had priority above visuals. That said, I wanted “Duckman” to maintain a quality in terms of the look of the thing. And the animators, they did an awesome job, some of the visuals were fantastic.
JG2: Can you remember any specific tussles about cutting a visual?
EP: I remember a shot in one episode where Ajax is picking a flower on a hill, and it’s a complete 360 rotation where he screams, “NO!!” at the end; that was gonna be cut, but we fought and fought and they kept it in. That was early on in the show, though. By the last season everything went smoother, we really got the feel of it.
JG2: That’s interesting, because it seems like the later “Duckman” seasons would have been harder to handle, what with [Duckman's long lost sister-in-law] Beverly showing up and other secondary characters like Ben Stein being fleshed out a little more. Doing those kinds of things didn’t upset the balance?
EP: No, I mean, what we always wanted to do was have kind of a world, a neighborhood where there were several characters that were reoccurring. The harder thing was a lot of times we’d have Duckman and his family go on locations, to Vietnam or whatever, so the animators would have to draw all new background scenes. I was in favor of the location stuff because it made for interesting shows, but the animators were angry, like, “We have to design 108 more backgrounds?” [laughs]
JG2: Weren’t there also some budgetary issues with USA?
EP: Sure, and that’s ultimately that’s why we were canceled. “Duckman” never got really high ratings. We got maybe a two share—that’s two million people. That was a good audience, but we were always sort of an underground show, and we were on an odd network. FOX, a lot of their programming supported “The Simpsons.” We didn’t really have that, and there wasn’t a culture at USA at the executive level that supported “Duckman” beyond three of four seasons.
JG2: Also, if I recall, “Duckman” was on at a weird time, like late Saturday nights.
EP: Yeah, and our lead in was, uh, wrestling or something, a sporting event, and sometimes the show didn’t start at the exact time. You know, all that stuff. USA did hire a publicity firm at one time who made some pretty cool posters and ads for us, but “Duckman” was just never was a show that had huge ratings, and our budgets reflected that. Our budgets were around $600,000 an episode. At that same time, “The Simpsons” were doing $1 million an episode. So we were already stretching to make “Duckman” look good. That was what I cared about—I wanted to make the show look as good as possible. And this was back when we were still doing animation on cells! That technology goes back to the 1920s!
JG2: So say “Duckman” doesn’t get canceled after season four. How much further could you have gone?
EP: I don’t know. I think when we were cancelled we were hitting our stride. Would we have had legs like “The Simpsons?” I don’t know that anyone else could go like that. I think we could have done another hundred episodes and kept it fresh. At its heart, “Duckman” was about a private detective, and you can go anywhere with that. And there was also his family, the family portion is pretty rich as well.
JG2: Well, you have to be proud as it stands—the show remains one of the best thing to come out of the 1990s.
EP: Oh yes, I am. I thought we did an amazing job with the thing. I still think it was the only story-oriented adult animated show ever. I mean, you see kinda weird things on Adult Swim, but we were really character driven.
JG2: That’s true. “Duckman” never relied on the fact it was a cartoon to find an out. The characters all dealt with their problems like real people, in between the zany jokes and sight gags.
EP: Yeah, I think we had a realistic emotional base for the characters. They had ups and downs, we would play them against themselves sometimes. I’m very proud of all that.
JG2: So how do you feel about Duckman’s forefather Howard the Duck? He’s really the only competition or measuring stuck that’s ever been in your field.
EP: You know, I don’t know that much about him. I never really followed him closely. I know the movie, and, uh, the technology at the time, there was more than what they could get across. [laughs] If they could have done it digitally…I don’t know. I thnk he’s an interesting character.
JG2: So Howard was never an albatross around Duckman’s neck?
EP: No. Duckman, you know, he’s a duck, but he’s really just a guy, a guy with a bill. Sure, he doesn’t wear clothes, but that’s just the cartoon convention. Daffy Duck never wore clothes.
JG2: I always thought Duckman didn’t wear clothes because he represented the show’s raw nerve, the “naked” emotion.
EP: Yes, exactly. [laughs]
A North Carolina native who claims to have only driven by South of the Border “a few times,” bass player Sean Yseult is best known as the co-founder of heavy metal horror groovers White Zombie. For thirteen years Yseult stalked stages worldwide with her WZ band mates, often proving the most colorful image in the assembly thanks to her shock of greenish-yellow hair. Her fluid playing made anchoring this noisy beast look effortless and helped catapult the aural pastiches that are White Zombie’s recorded albums into the pantheon of unmistakable rock greatness.
Since White Zombie’s untimely 1998 burial Sean’s kept busy in her adopted home of New Orleans by lending her talents to such similarly spook-based acts as Rock City Morgue, Star & Dagger, and Famous Monsters. She’s also found success with a line of fashionable scarves bearing her name, not to mention a creative partnership with noted mixed media artist Louis St. Lewis. Sean was kind enough to set aside some time this week so I could grill her about participating in the 1996 Germs tribute album, working with Chris Farley on Airheads, and where things stand with her former right hand man Rob Zombie.
JG2: You’ve spoken in the past about how unexpected White Zombie’s global success was to you and the other band members. Did you ever have a Dave Chappelle moment where you thought you wouldn’t be able to handle it, like you just tripped out too hard?
SEAN YSEULT: [laughs] No, it didn’t happen that fast. We had a slow, steady climb. It was never overwhelming or shocking. It took a while. When we got there, though, to the stadiums and MTV, it was like, “Wow!” But we would have been just as happy playing clubs and dive bars, like on that level.
JG2: So if it was a slow climb, then I wonder—was your family supportive of the whole thing? Did they ever want you to “find a real job?”
SW: No, I was lucky, my parents were both pretty bohemian. They’d crank Hendrix and stuff when I was growing up, so they couldn’t really say anything when I [pursued music]. In fact, much to my embarrassment, they’d come to [White Zombie] shows sometimes and bring their dope-smoking friends.
JG2: Did you ever think you’d have to “find a real job?”
SY: No, you know, we started out so young and it was just continually happening, we weren’t even thinking about the future. I mean, none of us had anything else we wanted to do. All we wanted to do was play music. And, y’know, we got really lucky. [laughs]
JG2: Yeah, a couple Platinum albums, I’d say it worked out. So you had a bar down there in New Orleans for a while, the Saint, but Wikipedia says it closed? Why did it close?
SY: Oh no, we actually sold it and it’s still there. My husband’s little brother owns it now. You know, owning a bar was never part of our dreams. The Saint kind of fell into our lap, so we did it for a few years, but post-Katrina it was such a struggle. And it was eating into our creative life. We’re both musicians, that’s what we really want to be doing, so we sold the bar.
JG2: I’ve never been to New Orleans and I don’t really have any concept of the pre/post-Katrina situations. Is the city still recovering?
SY: No, the town is so much better now than it was before. There are so many new shops and bars, there’s constant building going on. People are moving here for the right reasons, they’re moving here from New York and L.A. and all these other places to be productive. Before Katrina, people would move here to live the “drunken poet” life, just waste away, you know? But it’s not like that now. Everyone wants to help the city grow and it’s great.
JG2: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember hearing the original version of White Zombie’s breakthrough 1992 album La Sexorcisto was rejected by Geffen for having too many samples a la Paul’s Boutique. Is that true?
SY: That’s partially correct. We did a demo of La Sexorcisto that had four songs and on that there was a lot of things we couldn’t get permission for. One was a Charles Manson interview soundclip. You think he’d be cool with that kinda thing, but he flat out said no.
JG2: Wow, yeah, it’s not like his reputation can be any further damaged.
SY: Right? I think another clip we couldn’t clear was a “Star Trek” thing. I don’t remember.
JG2: Was there anything you couldn’t clear that hurt the final product, you thought, or really bummed you out?
SY: No, I think the only crucial stuff is maybe the Russ Meyer clips in “Thunderkiss ’65.” Russ Meyer was really great, he gave us total clearance and was very nice about it. But the other stuff, the stuff we had to axe, was no big deal. Well, to me, anyway. I’m sure if you asked Rob he’d be able to give you a list of the samples he’s still angry about losing.
JG2: How many times did you have to watch Chris Farley rip off that guy’s nipple ring when you were shooting White Zombie’s part in Airheads?
SY: [laughs] A lot! What an amazing cast that movie had—Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Steve Buscemi. We got to hang out with those guys for twelve hours for that thirty second shot. I learned to respect actors that day. It really took us twelve hours to do shoot those thirty seconds! There was a lot of down time that day, and between shots Chris Farley kept pulling up near the stage in this golf cart and flipping it over, totally wrecking it again and again, like a little kid trying to impress his friends. He’d be screaming, going crazy, it was so funny. Adam Sandler’s first comedy record had just come out and he invited us in his trailer to hear it to see what we thought. It was just a really cool day. That was one of my favorite experiences from my time in White Zombie.
JG2: And you’re in the half of Airheads that’s good!
SY: Oh, thank you! That’s good to know. We also got to record with Brendan Fraser—they had the band in the movie use a Reagan Youth song and since we were already there they asked [White Zombie guitarist] J and I to go play on the rerecording they used. So we got to be in the studio with Brendan Fraser, and this was before he was really famous. So that was cool too.
JG2: Speaking of odd studio partnerships, what’s the story with Ruined Eye, the one shot thing you did for the Germs tribute album, A Small Circle of Friends? Who was even in that band? How did it all come about?
SY: Well first of all, I love the Germs, they’re one of the bands that got me into punk and hardcore in the first place, and I will say the song we did ["Land of Treason"] was given to us, we didn’t necessarily pick it…but that’s okay. That all came about while White Zombie was on tour. The band was myself, J, Dave Navarro, which was awesome, and Keith Morris from Black Flag and the Circle Jerks. Someone’s going to be very mad at me but I can’t remember who the drummer was. [turns out it was Greg Rogers - ed.] I honestly don’t remember how it came together, either. Maybe Keith put it together? J and I knew Keith previously. You know, we toured so much, a lot of this stuff just runs together.
JG2: Being on tour like that, do you often forget not just little stuff like that but also what day or month it is?
SY: Yeah, you just give up after a while, you’re in this fantasy world. Sometimes I’d even forget what year it was. Seriously, I had no clue.
JG2: Are there things you feel you still want to accomplish as a musician?
SY: Hmm, well, I’ve never had any goals, I really just want to be able to keep writing music and keep performing. I’ve been doing it my whole life. I’ve been playing since I was five.
JG2: And there’s never been a time where you thought, “Maybe it’s time for a break?”
SY: Well, after those intensive years of touring with White Zombie for La Sexorcisto and Astro Creep 2000 I took a year off from playing. But it wasn’t that serious—I still brought a guitar down here with me to New Orleans. [laughs]
JG2: It’s no secret things ended oddly with White Zombie and that Rob doesn’t really talk to any of you folks anymore. If Rob Zombie called you up tomorrow, though, and said, “Listen, I want to apologize, I’ve been acting less than friendly and not treating you people right, I wanna make amends,” would you accept that and try to sort things out, or is it too late?
SY: I would totally accept that. I still don’t understand what happened; [our romantic relationship ended] amicably, we even shared a room after we broke up. I don’t know why he doesn’t want to talk now. I don’t have any issues with him, he shouldn’t have any issues with me. He met the love of his life right after we broke up, they’re married now—he should be thanking me! [laughs] I’m married to the love of my life, I’m happy.
JG2: Did you have another album in you past Astro Creep 2000?
SY: Yeah! [J, Rob, and I] had a three way phone call after that last tour about getting back together to work on stuff. J and I had all these riffs and ideas, and Rob just said, “I don’t think so.” A month later his solo album came out. So, you know, he already had that figured out. [laughs]
First photo swiped from the Internet—if you took it let me know and ye shall receive credit; second photo (taken in 1988 when White Zombie were still learning how to walk) swiped from Sean’s Facebook page.
“So how are you?” I ask Danny as we take our seats at Manhattan’s Great Jones Cafe, home of the Rotten Apple’s best pulled pork sandwich.
“How do you think I am?” he says with a smirk.
My dinner companion could be making reference to several aspects of his vastly interesting life, but in this moment we both know exactly why he’s radiating. Twenty-four hours prior, Danny (who, with his thick glasses and sandy blonde hair, bears passing resemblance to Peter Billingsly) was one of the chosen few allowed inside Cafe Wha? to witness Van Halen’s exclusive 2012 tour launch performance. Fans and journalists came from all corners of the Northeast to see the ultimate ’80s party rock band play their first club gig in decades, but Danny Young was the only VH disciple to fly in from the exotic land of Norway.
“One guy in line outside said, ‘Oh, I rode the subway here.’ Another guy said, ‘I flew here from Philly.’ Yeah, okay,” Danny tells me in a playfully dismissive tone. “They couldn’t believe how far I had come. They called me ‘Norway’ for the rest of the night. ‘Hey, what did Norway think of that?’”
Certainly the most dyed-in-the-wool Van Halen fan I currently know, a connection at Universal Records London got Danny on the über-exclusive guest list. I didn’t ask, but I’m fairly certain this connection was forged somehow through the eight years Danny spent drumming for Gluecifer. Gluecifer gets my vote for best hard rock band happening in the late nineties/early aughts—on Norwegian shores or any other. They never gained much traction here in the States, but neither did the majority of their Scandinavian contemporaries (Turbonegro, the Hellacopters, et al). America at that time was preoccupied with less testicular outfits such as Jimmy Eat World and Sum 41. It is as it was, the Pope might say.
This Cafe Wha? deal was the first time Danny had ever seen his favorite band in the world, and he was was right up front, stage right, close enough to taste Diamond Dave’s sweat. By all accounts, it was an amazing show. Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie VH’s twenty-something son who has controversially replaced original bassist Michael Anthony in the reunited Halen lineup, “held it down” and “gave it his all.” Dave Lee Roth’s vocals were low in the mix from where Danny stood but still sounded great. The only letdown was Alex Van Halen’s abnormally small drum kit.
“It was about one-fifth the size of what he normally plays with,” Danny says, making appropriate hand gestures to articulate just how tiny these drums were. “He had to play the beginning of ‘Dance The Night Away’ on the pipes above him. Dave walked over with the mic and stuck it over him.”
The influence of Alex Van Halen on Danny’s own style is discernable—both have rock solid meter and a knack for smartly complimenting whatever the guitars are doing—but there are, of course, other percussionists the man counts as heroes. John Bohnam. Joey Kramer. Peter Criss (the early stuff, before he became “a pussy wrist”). Ginger Baker. A clear pattern is emerging.
“I’ve always been a classic rock guy. The other guys in Gluecifer, they were all into punk—I never listened to that stuff, aside from the Ramones, who weren’t really a punk band, and Motörhead.”
This is reflected in Danny’s current band, Smoke Mohawk, which he started a couple years back with Gluecifer guitarist Raldo Useless. Classic rock is the only applicable genre term you could apply to the etherel take on Grand Funk they present on their debut album, The Dogs Are Turning Red. The distilled rage and chest-thumping bravado that was Gluecifer’s calling card is all but absent. I wonder if Danny’s aversion to punk or outward love of Van Halen caused any friction in his former band.
“No, but it was something I always joked about with Jon [Average, Gluecifer bassist]. He hated being called a musician. He didn’t want to think of himself that way. Total punk. So I’d tease him, ‘Oh, you’re a big time musician, you know,’ and he’d get so mad.”
Our conversation turns to the individual personalities of Gluecifer. As a fan, I’m captivated to hear this stuff. Some of it’s funny, some of it’s really disheartening. I learn that one member locked himself in his Manhattan hotel room for the entire the weekend of the band’s final show here in 2005, emerging only to take the stage. Danny still seems perplexed by this behavior.
“Maybe he was sad that the band was breaking up,” I suggest.
“Huh,” Danny responds, an expression on his face as if a cloud has lifted. “I never even considered that. I was sad too—on the cab ride to the airport afterwards, I remember feeling sentimental while I was texting with the other guys—but I had other things going on in my life. I was going to school in Los Angeles, I had just joined a band in Germany…yeah, maybe he was sad about the breakup.”
A flurry of fanboy questions shoot forth from my mouth.
“What of Gluecifer’s canon are you most proud of?”
“Yeah, your records.”
“Oh, Automatic Thrill, by far. That was our best and hardest record. I would have liked to see what we could have done after that. But when two guys in the band don’t want to go forward…”
“Is there anything you guys recorded that you’d go back and change?”
“I never thought about that…I guess maybe make some [material] more commercial, but that’s what we were trying to do anyway. So, I don’t know.”
“What’s the first thing you recorded with Gluecifer?”
“A seven inch called ‘Lard Ass Hagen.’”
“Fuck yeah, that’s a great song.”
“The guys weren’t too happy with how those songs sounded. That, ‘Mano A Mano’—we recorded those two seven inches together. I thought it sounded good, but they didn’t like it so much. I can’t remember if ‘Lard Ass’…was that actually the flip side to ‘Mano A Mano?’”
“No, ‘Mano A Mano’ was its own a-side with something else on the flip side.”
“Ah, okay. Yes.”
“Was that your real life dog in the ‘Losing End’ video?”
Danny laughs hard at this question, tilting his head back. Turns out the German Shepard who fetched his drum stick in the otherwise “serious” video was a hired hand. This makes me just as sad as the hotel story. I wanted to believe Danny Young owned that dog.
Around this time, Danny’s phone rings. It’s a member of Monster Magnet. They’re planning a meetup tomorrow before Danny flies back to Oslo. As they chat, I flip through my phone’s contact list. I have a member of GWAR’s number, but only because I interviewed him for a project some time last year. He’s not going to call me up ever and suggest we drive out to Red Bank, New Jersey to get funky.
“Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?” I ask Danny, the last question of the night I get off before everything becomes “off the record.”
“Dolly Parton. Her European tour manager cut her teeth managing Gluecifer. Dolly was playing somewhere, and I went. I love ‘Jolene,’ but I’m not some superfan…I went backstage anyway. We were introduced, and the manager said, ‘Danny’s a musician.’ [ADOPTS EERILY ACCURATE EFFEMINATE SOUTHERN VOICE] ‘Oh, d’ya play guh-tar and sing?’ [REGULAR VOICE] ‘No, I’m a drummer.’ [DOLLY IMPRESSION] ‘Oh, you could play with us!’ Haha, can you imagine that?”
For a moment, I do imagine the sneering blonde who pounded out “Lard Ass Hagen” holding a pair of brushes and lightly tapping out a beat behind our nation’s most buxom country treasure. It seems only slightly less ludicrous than flying eight hours from Norway on a Thursday to see the biggest heavy metal band of the Reagan Era perform in a shoebox-size tourist trap Bob Dylan made famous before anyone knew what a David Lee Roth was. Then I remember just moments ago I felt depression when I learned a dog in a music video wasn’t “real,” and life in general seems pretty funny on both sides of the coin.
For the benefit of all foodie completists reading this, yes, I had the pulled pork sandwich. Danny had the chiliburger. Both were deemed “fuckin’ great.”
Or “Writer Rehashes Content You’ve Already Ignored Once.”
Estonia officially adopts the Euro as its national currency. The singer from an nth generation rockabilly band accuses a toy conglomerate of stealing her identity. The Green Hornet is theatrically released, but I hear mixed things, so I decide to wait until it’s on DVD.
The White Stripes break up, allowing me to finally admit I was always a fan. I get food poisoning at my own Super Bowl party from a batch of eggplant-based dip. A computer beats Ken Jennings on “Jeopardy!”, shaming this country’s entire Mormon population.
I interview Mike Watt at the suggestion of my Crawdaddy! editor; the chat goes well, but I later regret not asking more questions about “Piss Bottle Man.” Zoogz Rift dies. Yuppies have a collective hissy fit when it’s announced the new season of “Mad Men” will be delayed until 2012.
Prince William marries Kate Middleton. I commemorate the early ’90s advertising ubiquity of MC Hammer. I also attempt to finish writing “We Didn’t Start The Fire” for Billy Joel. Yuppies have a collective hissy fit when this month sees the end of both LCD Soundsystem and Steve Carrell’s tenure on “The Office.”
I issue not one but two lengthy feature reports on forgotten Star Wars disco song “Lapti Nek”; unfortunately, they come too late in the year for Pulitzer Prize consideration. A personal trip to Minneapolis fails to yield any Prince sightings.
I discover via Twitter that the little kid from Cop & A Half is a rapper. Seth Putnam dies. Super 8 is released, and the scene were the children all sing “My Sharona” strikes me as not only grating but historically improbable; while I am researching this story, my boss calls to tell me Crawdaddy! is folding.
I interview “Weird Al” Yankovic, fulfilling a life-long dream. I see The Green Hornet and my distaste for Seth Rogen is cemented.
It is revealed that Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols didn’t really play on The Great Milenko. The original Star Wars movies are released on Blu-Ray with even more ridiculous CGI scribbling. A personal trip to Denver fails to yield any Sinbad sightings.
I publish my investigation into the Atari Landfill legend after it’s clear no one from the former video game giant can sue me. My favorite soda Vault is discontinued. Anthrax finally release Worship Music; riots erupt nowhere in response.
Steve Jobs dies, ostensibly before hearing a single note of Lulu. I interview Raj from “What’s Happening!!” and discover he’s a cool guy. After several seasons of speculation, Dr Pepper announces that they have no affiliation with “South Park.” The best song of the year is released.
The Justin Bieber Christmas album drops and gives the world a moment to reconsider Busta Rhymes. I eat pizza for Thanksgiving.
Americans suspect Coca-Cola of flavor treachery. Universal Studios Florida announces the closure of their Jaws attraction. An image surfaces that proves noted UFOlogist Giorgio Tsoukalos once combed his hair. Kim Jong-Il dies. I live the cliché by getting socks for Christmas.
Since 1996, New York City’s Turbo A.C.’s have been peeling out gloriously in the parking lot of rock n’ roll, laying down addictive grit-sucking anthems about loose women, fast cars, and primo ’70s kitsch. Last June the band released their seventh album, Kill Everyone, a slightly more reflective, emotional effort that also retained the throttle choke of their previous work. Affable lead Turbo Kevin Cole recently granted JG2Land a few minutes to discuss his band’s sampling practices, the now-defunct L.E.S. pizza parlor he used to run, and Blag Dahlia’s penis.
JG2: Your band has sampled a lot of recognizable film dialogue over the years. Do you clear the stuff you use, or do you just say, “Fuck it?”
KEVIN COLE: We just say, “Fuck it.” Our lawyer told us we should get them all cleared, but we don’t. I think they do realize, these people that we’re sampling, that it brings attention to the original work of art being referenced, and then people go and seek it out.
JG2: So Spielberg hasn’t come after you for the Jaws thing that opens up Kill Everyone?
KC: Not yet. That was kind of a big one. I tried to mask it a little bit, cover up the [John Williams] music, so I don’t think they can’t come after us about that. We were gonna try and recreate it, but the clip is so perfect. So we just used it. We don’t care. Let ‘em come after us.
JG2: Spielberg’s probably got bigger fish to fry.
KC: Yeah, probably. [laughs]
JG2: The Turbo A.C.’s have a song called “Fried Chicken.” What’s your favorite fried chicken place in New York City?
KC: Well, I’m not that much of a fried chicken…aficionado? Connoisseur? I go to Kennedy Fried Chicken, I’m not opposed to that. You know, I don’t want to get into this with you if you’re coming from a foodie perspective.
JG2: I’m no foodie, but I know people in New York get a little touchy about their chicken. Like, “Oh, I’ll only eat at Pies n’ Thighs, or I’ll only eat at Dirty Bird…”
KC: Nah. I could deep fry my shoe and it would probably taste good. [laughs] Actually, we used to deep fry slices at my pizza place.
JG2: Was that your shop’s specialty?
KC: Well, pizza in general was [our] specialty. [Deep fried slices] were just one of those things we discovered, taking a cold slice, throwing that fucker in the deep fryer…it was great. The cheese would get this crispy shell on outside, but it would still be all gooey on the inside.
JG2: Do you have any future restaurant plans?
KC: There’s talks of doing another one, another pizza place. I’ve got some guys in Hamburg who are interested in opening a New York-style pizza place over there. The German government apparently gives grants to people bringing in exotic foods. So, maybe. I’m still bummed the shop here didn’t work out. I was hoping I could have a spot to chill out after coming home from tour, you know, have a job and hang out and eat pizza. We thought we could share a liquor license with the bar next store, but we couldn’t, and that was that.
JG2: Are you related to Gary Cole?
KC: No, I don’t think so. Maybe Gary Cole-man. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure I really know who Gary Cole is.
JG2: Oh, he played the boss in Office Space.
KC: Yeah, okay, I’ve seen that. That’s funny.
JG2: How many times did Dwarves singer Blag Dahlia show you his penis when he produced your band?
KC: Not too often, not too often. I definitely saw it a couple times. I was guitar tech-ing for the Dwarves for a while, though, and as you can imagine I saw a lot of penises, because [guitarist] He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named…you know. Blag’s didn’t come out that often. He was pissing in a garbage can after a show once, and I saw it. That time, I went to hold his drink or something as he was pissing, and he said, “We’re holding hands while I pee.” He seemed pretty happy about that.
- photo by Ian Lozada
Just in case you missed it, here’s a link to the chat I conducted with Ernest “Raj” Thomas last month for comedy blog Splitsider.com. Topics covered include Burt Reynolds, Van Halen, Rob Zombie, and Ernest’s role in the famed 1992 Spike Lee joint Malcolm X. As Haywood Nelson might triumphantly exclaim, hey HAY hey!
Photo by Sara Ross-Samko
Here’s an interview I conducted with Donavan Freberg, a true pop culture icon, for Geek Monthly circa 2009. Without a doubt the funniest, friendliest, and most interesting interview subject I’ve ever heard imitate a chicken.
Dutiful late ‘80s couch potatoes no doubt remember him: the wise-cracking teen with the blond mullet who had a report due on space, a report he simply couldn’t have finished without his trusty reference book set. For years, he was simply the Encyclopedia Britannica Kid, that back-sassing commercial nerd who became a pop culture footnote once the Internet obliterated the need for home libraries. Little did anyone know that was Donavan Freberg, son of parody legend Stan Freberg. Donavan’s no one-trick pony: as a kid, he lent his voice to a few “Peanuts” characters, and post-Britannica he worked as a puppeteer for “Weird Al” Yankovic. Interesting side note: Donavan didn’t have a name until the age of five. We’ll let him tell you about that in the following interview.
JG2: How did that whole not-having-a-name thing work? Were your parents just like, “Hey, kid!”? What did they call you?
DONAVAN FREBERG: I was named Baby until I was five. See, I was kind of an accident. My mother didn’t think she could get pregnant again. Then when it happened, my parents thought I was gonna be a girl—this was before ultra sound, I guess—and they had the name April picked out. So when I came out, Dad was stumped. We also had a dog, a Yorkshire Terrier, named Baby…so when my Mother would call, “Baby!”, we’d both come running.
JG2: How did your family arrive upon Donavan?
DF: Both my mother and sister are named Donna, so it’s an extension of that. Actually, my sister was hanging around David Cassidy a lot around that time, and he heard about me and got really annoyed at the Baby thing. He said, “I’m going to call him Damien.” But then my folks chose Donavan. I had a very Royal Tenenbaums-meets-“The Munsters” type of upbringing. So now, Baby is more than a pet name for me. I hear people use it, like, “Hey, baby,” and it feels weird. It takes me back somewhere in my mind.
JG2: What was it like at the height of your Encyclopedia Britannica fame? Were people constantly coming up and giving you the business?
DF: It was definitely very weird. I was recognized constantly. People would call out, “Hey, you’re that nerd!” or “You’re that dork! Hey, dork!” It was mostly razzing. People tend to feel like they have an intimate connection to you if you’ve been on television. I remember visiting a shopping mall in Austin, Texas—I was out there to see some family—and I was just mobbed instantly. That was more awe, celebrity worship, towards Middle America. In L.A., they were mostly razzing me. But I laughed all the way to bank with the $37 I made off those ads. [Laughs]
JG2: What exactly was the time span those Britannica ads ran?
DF: 1988 to 1992, 1993. I could have gone longer. I think I had another five years in me.
JG2: How did you end up working as Baby Boolie on “The Weird Al Show?”
DF: My dad had been hired to do puppeteer work on that. “Weird Al” loves my dad. He’s always cited my dad as his biggest influence. They were looking for another puppeteer, and my dad mentioned me. It wasn’t pure nepotism, though. “Weird Al”—who, by the way, is the nicest and most intelligent celebrity I think I’ve ever met—said, “Come in, put this puppet on arm, and just improv. Make me laugh.” So he’s sitting there as I go off with this puppet, and he’s barely laughing at first. So I’m thinking, “Oh God, I’m blowing it.” But then he very quietly said, “You got the part.”
JG2: Do you ever get together with Jeremy Miller, Jeremy Shoenberg, or any of the other people who have voiced Linus from “Peanuts” over the years to shoot the breeze and share war stories?
DF: No, I’ve never met any of those guys. I only voiced Linus and Charlie Brown in commercials and public service announcements. So, stuff like Met Life, the public library, Zinger Zapper, Dolly Madison, etc. I did get to meet Charles Shultz before he died, though, and that was amazing.
JG2: Are you still voice acting these days?
DF: Yeah, I do a little voice acting here and there. I just did a pilot for the “Rugrats” guys about a reporter chicken, but it didn’t get picked up. It was like a chicken news anchor, you know, [adopts wacky chicken voice] “This is Jack Cluckman for PNN, the Poultry News Network!” I’m also pursuing photography, but I’d like to get back into advertising. I’d like to try to be the spokesperson for Wikipedia. That would be funny. Actually, I’m really thinking about creating an ad agency for natural elements. You know, like the Sun.
JG2: Does the Sun need more publicity?
DF: Sure! And rain. I want to get rain and all those other earthy names back from the hippies.
JG2: What would your tag line be for rain?
DF: “Rain—nothing would be green without it.”
JG2: Not bad. I feel compelled to tell you the reason this interview came about is because John Hodgman mentioned you in his recent fake fact book, More Information You Require. I’m pretty sure you’re name is the only honest piece of information in it. How does that feel?
DF: Oh, I didn’t know that! That’s fantastic! But the truth is, how do you know John Hodgman and I aren’t really the same person?
JG2: Are you?
DF: I’ll put it this way: you’ll probably never see us both in the same place.
For more on Donavan, be sure to visit his blog, http://babyfreberg.blogspot.com.
Since 1996, Mark Prindle has been reviewing entire discographies of major rock artists on his website in a manner that often can only be described as patently absurd. He goes on long unrelated tangents, assumes the viewpoint of inanimate (and often gross) objects, and tosses off non sequiturs like so much dandruff. Despite the silliness, Mark always manages to get his point across. He’s the most passionate reviewer working today (and when he tears into a stinker, look out—it’s a thing of beauty).
In recent years, Mark’s taken up interviewing musicians for his site, as well as regularly cracking wise on the FOXNews show “Red Eye.” The old boy was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to speak to me, JG2, about his beloved music review website, bands he’s misjudged in the past, and which members of Bloodrock he wants to fuck most.
JG2: Are there any bands/artists you are just never going to review on your site for personal reasons? Like, you just fuckin’ hate ‘em and can’t even fathom givin’ ‘em the time of day?
MARK PRINDLE: Never say never, because my musical preferences and obsessive-compulsive reasons for reviewing bands change daily. However, there’s a pretty fair chance that I will never review Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Jandek, or Elvis Costello. I say this because I went through the trouble of acquiring all four artists’ entire discographies years ago before slowly coming to the realization that I hated most of it! As such, the only record I now own by any of them is Fleetwood Mac’s excellent Rumours. And don’t be like “Dude, Tusk rules!” because Tusk has like three good songs on it.
JG2: I would never say anything positive about Tusk. Still, you don’t think it might be interesting to look at Fleetwood Mac’s disco from the perspective of someone who only likes Rumors? I mean, that description fits a significant portion of this country. You’d be relating, figuring out why the other albums didn’t connect as hard. On the other hand, I can understand how you might not want to talk about a bunch of shit you hate.
MP: I already sold all of the albums and have no intention of re-purchasing them. There are hundreds and hundreds of other “full catalogs” in my collection that I would rather spend my time on than Fleetwood Mac.
JG2: Did you have any clue the site would go on for this long? Do you foresee yourself maintaining the site/reviewing records until the day you die a penniless pauper in an East Village tenement like Bobby Driscoll?
MP: I had no idea. I actually retired from the site for a year and a half back around 1998 to concentrate on my own music, but upon discovering that nobody liked my own music, I returned to reviewing! I see myself maintaining the site until death, or until people stop reading it. I don’t know who Bobby Driscoll is, and Wikipedia is way over there.
JG2: He’s this dead guy, it doesn’t really matter. So what spurned your recent decision to begin playing music out in public again?
MP: Mostly unemployment. Also, the feeling that I could put on an entertaining and humorous show for a certain breed of music fan. And most of all, the fact that the drummer from Neutron Drivers invited me to open for his band! Musically our show was terrible, but the audience seemed to enjoy the jokes. That just spurred us on to do more MORE MORE! (i.e. two more shows).
JG2: Your review pages have received countless memorable comments over the years. What are some of the few comments that have really stuck with you? The ones from musicians you were reviewing, or normal people just going off on some shit they don’t agree with you on?
MP: [The comments] don’t stick with me. I post them and forget about them — THANK GOD. If they stuck with me, I’d cry all the time! I remember the “Hewu” comments on my Linkin Park page being pretty funny though. Also the people at the top of my PIL and U2 pages who didn’t get the stupid jokes in the opening paragraphs. And I suppose the AC/DC’s Ballbreaker comments should be mentioned if only because there are so many of them!
JG2: How many times do you listen to a record before you sit down to write the review?
MP: At least twice very closely while taking notes. Sometimes more, depending on how difficult it is to “get” the music. For example, when I review death metal, I have to listen extremely closely several times before I can totally understand what the band is doing.
JG2: Are there any artists/albums you’ve reviewed that you’ve completely changed your position on since posting a review? Who, and why?
MP: I now love the Didjits to death and wish I’d raved more in my reviews instead of complaining about the singer’s voice and how there were “too many slow songs.” I actually rewrote my Rush page years ago when I unexpectedly became a fan of the band. I can’t think of any aside from those at the moment. I even still enjoy all those old Everclear CDs! No idea what’s up with that. It happens more often with albums. Every once in a while I’ll listen to an album that I originally gave a good review, and come away thinking, “WAS I OUT OF MY MIND!?!?!” This has appened with several late-period Agnostic Front records, one of the post-Jim Morrison Doors albums….ehh, probably others. There’s no accounting for momentary poor taste, I guess.
JG2: If you were stranded on a desert island with Dick Ebersol and could only bring ONE record to smash over his head when he made the inevitable pass at you, which would it be and why?
MP: Is he gay? I could turn him straight. On the Ebersol tip, I hope that Lorne Michaels releases box sets for the “SNL” years when he wasn’t around. If he does, next up is the infamous Season Six!
JG2: What do Miley Cyrus and Otto von Bismarck have in common?
MP: My absolute lack of interest.
JG2: Has any member of Bloodrock ever contacted you to thank you for your rabid fandom?
MP: NO, the pricks! I’ve heard the singer became a ruthless businessman, so maybe he’s too busy wheeling and dealing to drop me a line. But surely Stevie Hill could send a quick hello!
JG2: If you could sleep with one member of Bloodrock, who would it be and why?
MP: Definitely one of those replacement players on the final two albums, because if any Bloodrock members have vaginas, it’s those two pussy-assed girl pansy fairy sissies.
Haven’t thrown one of these up in a while. In case you forgot, Cornuzine was a website I used to do. These interviews were the only redeeming part.
His parents gave him the name Fritjof Jacobsen, but in 1994 this jaunty Norwegian chap rechristened himself Biff Malibu (after the porn actor) and formed the flashy hard rock combo Gluecifer with a few of his pals. Biff’s light, saucy vocal delivery pleasantly punctuated the slew of excellent albums Gluecifer released during their eleven year run. In 2003, I got the chance to chat with the bescarfed front man, which was an experience beyond thrilling for this drooling fan boy. Continue reading to discover what the self-described “scheming dildo” has to say about Norwegian history, the Foo Fighters, and that lady from Sleepless In Seattle.
BIFF MALIBU SPEAKS OF ROCK, MEG RYAN
JAMES GREENE, JR: For a Norwegian singer, you have a pretty good handle on the English language. Explain this phenomenon, please.
BIFF MALIBU: Musicality I guess, or maybe more likely the fact that we Scandihoooligans are taught english in school from we are nine ’til we are 18.
JG2: Nine ’til you’re eighteen? What’s the reasoning behind that?
BM: Probably to prime us for an international career in rock and roll, or maybe the fact that Norway is such a small country that we need to know English because no one is willing to learn Norwegian.
JG2: No one wants to learn their native language?
BM: Oay, to be serious…Norway has a population of four million people. We speak Norwegian, a language very similar to Swedish and Danish. Norway has for hundreds of years had a strong bond with [the] U.K.—not strange, since we used to be a big shipping nation. Since our country is so small, I guess someone figured out many years ago that it was important to learn foreign language in order to do trade, etc. In the late 1800s, thousands of Norwegians emigrated to [the] U.S.A. I guess the bond with English and American people were strengthened during World War II.
JG2: I see.
BM: Since the war, all kids have been taught English in school. Today, I would say that almost everyone you’ll meet here has English as their second language, but don’t get me wrong—in our daily life we speak and write Norwegian. It’s just that here, and in the other Scandi countries for that matter, the proficiency in English language is very high, especially compared to the bigger euro countries like France or Germany.
JG2: Interesting. We don’t really have a second language here, generally speaking.
BM: For our part in Gluecifer, we have spent so much time abroad…that I guess our English has been maintained very well. I myself am also married to a girl who has an American dad, so I speak English a lot, and also read most books in that language.
JG2: Cool. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t your latest effort Basement Apes debut at #4 on the Billboard charts in Scandanavia? Has this success changed the mighty rock machine that is Gluecifer?
BM: We debuted at #2, actually, and stayed in the top forty for several weeks. It was very cool, as it enabled us to play more cities and to more people here in Norway. It hasn’t really changed the machine though, maybe just given it a little more financial lubrication. That was welcome, of course.
JG2: Didn’t you guys just open for the Foo Fighters? How was that?
BM: Foo Fighters were really nice guys. Thay gave us tons of booze and beer and real red carpet treatment. The show itself was okay—felt a little weird playing a sports arena—but I guess we can get used to that if we have to.
JG2: That’s cool. I touched Dave Grohl’s knee once. So, the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was last week. Is there any band you think the Hall needs to induct next year? Anyone you think they shouldn’t have inducted this year?
BM: I don’t care too much about this Hall of Fame thing. I’ve been to the museum in Cleveland, and although some of it was pretty cool, I think looking at Kurt Cobain’s sweater or Pete Townshend’s old socks is far away from rock. If you are talking in terms of underrated bands or artists, Roky Erickson is the first name that comes to my mind.
JG2: Good ol’ Roky. You once famously sang that you were sick of watching TV ’cause “they’re always showing Prong.” Do they really show a lot of Prong on TV where you live, or do you just not like Prong? Explain your lyric, please!
BM: When we wrote that song, someone had just dragged me to a Prong show. I disliked it strongly. But, to be honest, I think the main reason for using the word Prong was that I had to rhyme something with “schlong.”
JG2: Got it. When exactly was the year of Manly Living? 1978?
BM: Every year since we started Gluecifer in ’94 has been a year of manly living.
JG2: How did “Leather Chair” end up in Kate & Leopold?
BM: Beats me. We just got noticed in an e-mail and received a check. Haven’t seen the movie. Is it any good?
JG2: Oh, I have no idea.
BM: Meg Ryan spell a little too much like Xanax for my taste.
JG2: Did you just say Meg Ryan spell a little too much like Xanax? I don’t…
BM: Haven’t you seen that perpetual blissful look on her face?
BM: It has to be pharmaceuticals!
- Cornuzine.com, 3/19/03