THIS WEEK: Notes to self
Jeffrey Lewis would like to collaborate on a comic strip for Plan B. I’m no Joe Matt fan, but Lewis has a fluent, good-natured style that makes his re-telling of tour anecdotes and World History a pleasure to read: and teaming up would be nice. Recall I once wrote a How To Write A Book About Nirvana one-pager for The Stranger with talented, acerbic Seattle cartoonist Peter Bagge – a spoof on former Bruce Springsteen fan club president and Nirvana ‘expert’ Charles Cross that we thought was hilarious over several large whiskies down The Sea Wolf, but raised more hackles than laughs. “What’s your problem?” was the standard response Bagge got when confronted by humourless, irate locals.
Undaunted, been talking for a while with Fantagraphics man Eric Reynolds about reviving the original Everett True strip (turn of the century, cantankerous bowler-wearing gentleman rights wrongs in no uncertain manner) – be a natural for music criticism – but it seems too many unfunny folk have been harbouring the same thought already. For Lewis, I had an idea we could four-panel Stuff I Haven’t Regretted, thereby reprising some punchy lines from a variety of reviews (“I grew a beard during that last Paul Weller guitar solo”; “Billy Corgan – puffy-faced twat”, “Suede have made the album of the year. And that year is 1973”). I’m not sure. I could write myself out of a job.
Copy of new Gutter Twins album lies unopened by my screen. Just been in Seattle, prematurely celebrating 20 years of Sub Pop (some local pedants state 28 or thereabouts, citing label founder Bruce Pavitt’s original Sub Pop underground record review column in The Rocket)…it’s been 19 years, almost to the week, since I first landed there in a snowstorm and ruined the city for a generation at least, and it seems that folk there are still haunted by the same ghosts (Mount Rainier, lack of decent coffee) that they’ve always been haunted by. If the local musicians have such a problem with condos why don’t they all up sticks and move to Portland? Oh, wait. They have.
Was originally going to be interviewing Gutter Twins – Mark Lanegan and Eddie Vedder fan Greg Dulli – but that would’ve involved LA. Also – musical merit aside – I despise the name Gutter Twins with a vengeance: reminds me of Primal Scream’s understanding of old time rock’n’roll, and creaky old leather trousers. It’s like, we all wanted to be in Aerosmith all along. I mean, duh. That’s an American thing. I’m not American (Stuff I Haven’t Regretted Vol 23). Aside, the music is fine: bluesy, mature, laden down with misery and lost loves and religious allegory (I know all this without listening to the CD, incidentally) and I’d have been very happy to talk to both fellows (I believe they share a common past in detention centres) as both are fine storytellers and songwriters, and gentlemen to boot, but, as I say, that would’ve involved LA. So I flew to Seattle for three days instead, and wallowed in ego. Sub Pop Vice President Megan Jasper still has a peerless potty mouth, and that fact alone makes me happy.
Tomorrow, I have a noon-time date with the Deal sisters, Kim and Kelley – there’s a new Breeders album imminent, Mountain Battles – and I’m sure that will make up for any lingering disappointment (Stuff I Haven’t Regretted, Vol 3091). The new music is fantastic: it lingers and pauses and breathes deeply of the intoxicating scent of the new and familiar; it sings of love and hate and social vagaries; it sounds like The Breeders without sounding remotely tired or old: it smells of dew-laden fronds and Scout Niblett’s battered discarded snare drum: it wallows around inside pop and Spanish glissandos and the joy of discovering an even holier way to play guitar; it soundtracked a seven-hour flight from Detroit to Gatwick and surprised anew on every listen.
Last time I met the Deal sisters (at All Tomorrow’s Parties a few years back), it went something like this…
3.30 pm, Sunday: We’ve set up the Careless Talk Costs Lives stand at the back of the main hall, myself and photographer Greg Neale – magazines and drinks precariously balanced on a small table. Greg’s looking forward to meeting his photographic idol, CTCL co-founder Steve Gullick. Kim Deal and I are having a quiet conversation in the corner.
Suddenly, here’s Steve. He lurches forward, and announces blearily, “Fuck, I think I’ve just pissed myself.” He sees the table, grins at me, picks it up and throws it across the hall. Magazines go everywhere, so he starts hurling them into the crowd.
“Don’t do that Steve,” I admonish him, as we set right the table.
Steve gives me a little smile and does it again.
Third time, Greg rugby tackles Steve to the ground.
Suddenly, it occurs to me: “Er, Greg… meet Steve.”
Kim turns to me and whispers: “We were never like that, were we, Everett?”
No, Kim. Never.
Hugs And Kisses Top 5
ET’s pop picks
1. THE BREEDERS, “Regalame Esta Noche” (from the forthcoming 4AD album Mountain Battles). Spine tingling, and blessed with an atmosphere that should soundtrack any plaintive David Lynch moment you can name.
2. MARVIN GAYE, “You Can Leave, But It’s Going To Cost You” (from the Universal album Here, My Dear). Finest concept album ever. The one Gaye had to present the royalties from to his ex-wife after a court ruling. (The ‘ever’ is for emphasis. It’s not meant to be taken literally. Music is not a competition.)
3. AMY WINEHOUSE, “Help Yourself” (from Frank) I’m just trying to be honest here, if you’re wondering ‘bout the continued proliferation of Amy in these playlists.
4. THE BETTER BEATLES, “I’m Down” (from the Hook & Crook album Mercy Beat). Rarely has a band been better named…um, depending on yr definition of ‘better’, of course. From early Eighties, and vested with that time’s sarcastic innovation.
5. THE B-52’s, “Hot Corner” (from the forthcoming EMI album Funplex). The B-52’s are back and they sound like prime (early) B-52’s. Whoa. Someone likes me!