Possibly 4th Street 23: Howlin’ Rain, Part 2


Rob Trucks’s “Possibly 4th Street” expositions, in which he invites musicians to perform live and impromptu somewhere in New York City, run intermittently here at Sound of the City.

Part one of his Howlin’ Rain interview is over here.

Ethan Miller talks about food in his Chelsea Hotel room

Possibly 4th Street
Number 23 (Part Two)
Howlin’ Rain


Ethan Miller of Howlin’ Rain


Late afternoon, April 1, 2008


Third floor, Chelsea Hotel.

Tell me the name of a book you’ve read at least twice.

Let me think. Let me think. Um, God I’m so bad at these kinds of things. Like these are all these like compartmentalized, categorical like things that people like Joel (Robinow), who just played keyboards, like he would have this stuff. Like, it’s all there. He’s got it all memorized. And I’m so bad. I’m like, ‘Have I read this? Yeah, I did.’

Shit, man. Books I read twice? I think I read Puzo’s The Godfather twice. That’s a really profoundly awesome book.

all photos by Rob Trucks

Did you like it better than the movie?

It’s just untouchable. I mean, it is way better than the movie. I mean, the movie’s like, you know, just an ass hair from being a masterpiece. Well, everyone says it’s a masterpiece, but if you read the book you’ll be like, ‘Goddamn it. That book is so goddamn good.’

I was on tour when I read it the first time and I found myself thinking about it on stage while we were playing. Like, ‘I can’t wait to get in the van and like get back and look into that book.’ I mean, every fucking line, man. It’s just incredible. You can see why some things are just a fantastic bestseller.

Is it more distracting to be thinking about The Godfather onstage or to be playing on the balcony of the Chelsea Hotel while a woman is undressing across the street?

Well, I don’t know. I mean, all I could think about was Brian DePalma when . . . The woman undressing, you just see like the bottom half of her body. Yeah, it looked . . . Because I was like playing and looking and I was like, ‘That woman looks like a . . . like it looks like they’re doing ballet or something.’ I thought I saw the mirrors and the pole and stuff. You know, they put their legs up on. And then . . . But it really looked like she just like took off like the bottom half of her clothes while we were playing, because, I mean, from the Chelsea here you’ve got such a great view of like all . . . And there’s like all these different people doing different things. You know, the classic Rear Window stuff.


Probably more distracting to think of a . . . I don’t know, you know, in a weird way. It’s probably more distracting to see the, to be doing an act of voyeurism and be distracted by like the subject of the voyeurism, you know, is probably more distracting that simply like . . . You know, I mean, sometimes when you’re on stage you like get into like this subconscious level and then things can bubble up or whatever, and, you know, I wasn’t thinking about the Puzo and all because I was bored. It just like, you know, bubbled up in there with like other weird things, stimulus, and it’s like inspirational and at some point it bubbled up.
But committing a minor crime, you know, and then being distracted in the middle of that while performing on the balcony of the Chelsea a song that you’ve never attempted to play in this format before is probably . . . That’s much more distracting.

Howlin’ Rain performs “Dancers At the End of Time” at the Chelsea Hotel over here.