Morningwood: A Riff Raff Interview
TIGER BY THE TAIL
"Hats off" to snakes Photo: Hellin Kay
The Morningwood Interview
New York rock band Morningwood just released their self-titled debut LP, sex-obsessed, sassy, all fun except if you hate fun, a bit bratty and sometimes very bratty, and at least ten seconds of one song sounds like "21st Century Schizoid Man," so do with that what you will (riff). Yesterday Riff Raff spoke with lead singer Chantal Claret about the band, its Wallflowers pedigree, and how in the future, when a man says he's got morning wood, he won't mean "I've woken up with an erection," but "I just put my copy of the Morningwood album in my pants." Welcome to 2006:
RR: I'm sorry if I sound really tired right now.
CC: What time is it?
Cam'Ron and Jay-Z.
Is someone dead?
Not yet. But Cam'Ron fired off some darts.
Darts like verbal darts?
Mouth bullets. He says that Jay-Z looks like Joe Camel.
Really, that's it? I can sorta see that.
Are you with Cam'Ron or Jay-Z here?
Jay-Z, he's the fucking shit, dude. I don't even know who Killa Cam is.
He's a rapper.
I don't want to get involved. I'm East Coast and West Coast, that's it. Where are these guys from anyway?
Cam'Ron's from Harlem, Jay-Z's from Brooklyn.
So it's not East Coast versus West Coast.
Harlem's sorta the West Coast of New York.
Is it? I really don't want to get involved. If anything I'm just choosing Jay-Z because I love Beyonce. Anywhere Beyonce goes I'm going to side with her.
What's your deal with Beyonce?
I love her.
You've made out?
It's not even like a sexual thing. I just think she's the hottest woman ever and I love her voice.
Would you let it become a sexual thing though?
I just respect her too much. We almost signed to Columbia, and the only reason I was excited was because I was going to use all our recording money to get Beyonce to do a duet with me. I love her.
I know people are always asking rockstars "where are you?", "how is tour?", stuff like that. But where do you think I am?
I'm in Paris. Tour is great, considering we're not on tour till Monday.
Have you read The DaVinci Code?
It's a good book.
Have you had to talk to any French people?
Yes, I've talked to many a French people, and I spoke in French with them as well.
How'd that go?
They ask if I can speak French because my name is obviously French, and then I tell them un peu je parle un peu mais je comprends plus que je parle.
But that's Spanish.
I have a bunch more questions. I get the feeling we're the same age, 23?
23. How old are you?
23. When is your birthday?
Yes sir. What about you?
Pisces and Cancer go well together.
Depends on who you talk to. But a lot of people talk about your bandmates' ex-Cibo Matto, ex-Wallflowers, ex-Spacehog kinda stuff.
Well I think I should clarify that the member of Cibo Matto who was in our band is no longer in our band, and the member of Spacehog who was in our band is no longer in our band. The new drummer of our band, his name is Alfredo Ortiz, and he is the percussionist from the Beastie Boys.
Well that's perfect, because this question is about you. Wallfowers, Spacehog, these are bands that, whether you listened to them or not, they were popular when we were in grade school--and now you're in bands with them. For me it'd be like playing in a band with G. Love. How has that been for you? Are those guys sorta creepy?
I would say when I first started, like the first moment of conception of the band, it was more of an honor. Because I didn't consider myself a musician, I was going to film school, I wanted to be a director. So I was honored, but I got over it really quickly.
Is there a pecking order of ex-bands?
No, not at all. And when we played shows we never had, like, "EX CIBO MATTO!" or "EX WALLFLOWERS!" on our posters. We never used that, because that was never necessarily a plus to us.
I would say the Wallflowers is a plus. That's the reason I bought your record.
And now you're telling me about the Beastie Boys guy, and now I'm probably going to go buy another copy of the record.
We consider it baggage. Leave our baggage at the door.
Really? I though you all met at a Wallflowers concert.
No! Pedro hasn't been in the Wallflowers in a billion years. We met at a birthday party for a mutual friend, this kid Sean Lennon, at his apartment on the Upper West Side. It was around six in the morning, and he asked us to go around in a circle and sing a song for him in honor of his birthday. And there were all these musicians there, and it got around, they all had guitars, it got around to me, and I was inebriated enough that I sang a song that I had written when I was 15. And Pedro was obviously spellbound by my talent, and asked me to make music with him, and that's how we met.
Did anybody play "Hotel California"?
No they all sang their own ditties.
Was Dave Matthews there? To play some Dave?
No, Rufus Wainwright was there. I gave him a whole speech about how he's too good looking to be gay. I told him, "You must procreate! Do you realize how many ugly people are having sex and making babies?"
Actually I don't think it's public knowledge that he's gay.
Another thing that I've been confused about, a lot of people have been saying your band is silly and stupid. But then I look at your song titles. "Nth Degree"--that's about math. "Neu Rock"--that's German. "Jetsetters"--that's jets, so that's science. "Take Off Your Clothes"--you have to take off your clothes, and put on other clothes to do sports.
I just got a myspace message today: "My 20-month-year-old daughter is singing along to 'Nth degree.'" Singing along! Spelling. We are teaching 20-month year-old children about erect penises and spelling.
And obviously, if you "take off your clothes," you're going to give those clothes to the needy.
Let's talk Morningwood beef. Who are you beefing with?
You're not going to get me to name names.
I'm not saying name names--just name bands.
I come from the school of if you don't have anything nice to say specific, don't say it to the press. But behind doors you'll hear me talking a shitload of storm.
We call it a shitstorm.
How about older bands?
I don't have any beef against older bands.
If I ever see those fucking Jethro Tull fuckers walking around the street, they're getting one in the fucking... ass.
But clearly there was beef with that band Morningwood, the one you made change their name.
Which one, the one from Texas? They broke up a couple years ago. They had broken up but they still owned the trademark for the name, so we bought the trademark. And once you buy the trademark off of somebody, you own it from when they owned it from. So officially we'd owned it longer than anybody else since they had owned it since, like, 1995. So officially we've been Morningwood since 1995.
So 1995 was the first instance of morning wood.
I was 13.
I bet it was Benjamin Franklin.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in New York, delivered to your inbox.