Friday, April 27, 2007

Interview With A FiL

While perusing Mini-Obs, I noticed that Dearest Natsthename had a chain interview going. You know, someone sends you a few questions, then you answer them on your blog or else you and your descendants will have four millennia of bad luck, your dog will get scrofula, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will move into your living room.

Anyway, I felt game for a bit of an inquisition, so I asked Nats craft five questions for me. Thanks Nats! And here they are:

Q: Reach way back into the memory here. What is the first occasion you can recall being proud of an accomplishment?

Let's see, I'll have to rummage around a bit; there's a fair bit of clutter in the old cerebral cupboard. Dum de dum... What's this? Just dust off the cobwebs here and... Oh my, I'd forgotten about that. I can't believe I actually snogged -- er, hang on FiL, focus on what youre doing. Hmm, that milk crate looks promising... Ah, found it!

I was in first grade. Our teacher, a rollicking barrel of a lady from Guyana named Mrs Edwards, had asked us to write a story about going on vacation. I remember carefully printing out the first line: "It was Friday afternoon and Jane was helping her father pack the car." That line, plus whatever I wrote subsequently, impressed Mrs Edwards sufficiently that sent me off to show it to the Principal. To this day I clearly remember both standing (somewhat trepidatiously) in her office while she read it, and the warm swell of pride in my chest when she told me that she thought it was extremely good.

Q: Program the soundtrack to the movie of your life. What songs are in it?

Oh gosh, that's a poser. If we're building a film around songs, then I think we're talking a three-hour epic. Possibly a trilogy of them. But I'll be good and limit myself to a dozen tracks that do an adequate job of telling "The Story of FiL."

Donny & Marie Osmond - A Little Bit Country (buy here)
I remember eagerly awaiting the one night every week that I got to stay up a whole half-hour later to watch the "Donny and Marie Show." This song just rocked my little seven-year-old world. Oh, and I fancied Marie something rotten.

Kiss - Room Service (buy here)
Don't ask me why, but someone gave me Kiss's "Dressed to Kill" album when I was eight and I just thought it was the coolest thing EVAH. I wanted to be Gene Simmonds and to do that tongue thing. Alas, Kiss soon fell out of favour, but I must admit that they have been rehabilitated in my musical pantheon after I rediscovered their early oeuvre a few years back and found it actually rocks.

Sex Pistols - Bodies (buy here)
The band, the album, that changed it all for me. After several years of frankly unsatisfying wandering in the wastes of MOR rawk, once in high school I bought Never Mind the Bollocks at my local record emporium. Though I was displaced in time and space from the seminal events of 1976-78, the first play marked my Year Zero. Johnny Rotten instantly became my (anti-)hero. I now knew how things could be.

The Jam - Strange Town (buy here)
Ah, Paul Weller, another hero. Righteous punky modness by the bucket. I am forever grateful to Dearest Bishakh (hey, if you're in the audience, take a bow!) for introducing me to Messrs Weller, Foxton, and Buckler. Shame that old Paul descended into the depth of wooden-beady dadrock. And whatever you do, don't mention "The Reunion."

Billy Bragg - Help Save The Youth Of America (buy here or e-here)
The Big-Nosed Bastard from Barking did more than anyone to shape my world view. And he continues to do so today.

Bauhaus - Stigmata Martyr (buy here or e-here)
Woooo, scaaaary stuff, kiddies!! I'll let you in on a secret: goth is really loads of fun! And it provides great accompaniment for bizarre rituals in basements. And, on endless repeat, for sophomore years spent moping about that girl who now that you look at it would have been totally inappropriate for you anyway. Er, that last bit wasn't much fun, actually.

Daniel Johnston - Casper The Friendly Ghost (buy here or e-here)
A good chunk of my university days were spent DJing at the mighty WGTB. That time saw my musical horizons expand by an unprecedented degree. And the magical, troubled Daniel Johnston was a key expander.

Carter USM - The Only Living Boy In New Cross (buy here)
I moved to Britain during the heady confluence of Britpop, baggy, and acieeed. Carter USM sorta brings it all back to me. But I don't look good in lycra.

Neil Young - Harvest Moon (buy here)
This here's Dearest Wife's and my courting song. Aw, shucks...

The Hives - Hate To Say I Told You So (buy here)
After Growing Up And Getting A Proper Job (TM), I sorta lost my mojo. I think it fell out of my suit pocket somewhere between Fulwell train station and Canary Wharf. Then The Hives grabbed me by the lapels and stuffed another one in my mouth. Thank you, Howlin' Pelle Almqvist.

The Faint - Agenda Suicide (buy here)
Listen to this. Then watch the video. This was my existence. The Faint saved my life.

Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country (buy here or e-here)
It's not all crash, bang, rammy tuneage round FiL's way; there's always been a twee element lurking about. Honest. But I will admit that of late the ratio of "strum-strum-la-la-la" to "ONETWOTHREEFOURBLAAAARGH" has been increasing. And I do think this is in some part due to the hop, skip, and jump we made over to Vancouver. Three hours of commuting per day down to 30 minutes. Shoebox living swapped for space. Smog traded for sea air. The only downside has been the loss of proximity to our Dearest, Dearest Friends - you know who you are, and we miss you fiercely. Come on, emigrate, you know it makes sense...

Tom Waits - Innocent When You Dream [Barroom version] (buy here)
I've made it known that this song is to be played at my funeral. Which I expect and hope won't be for a loooooooooooong time yet!

Q: You have won a free week-long vacation for yourself, your wife, and your kids to any spot in the world, but you have to leave in 20 minutes and you get to take one suitcase. What's in it?

Do we have to take the kids? Sigh, alright then...

We're off to Namibia, me for the second time, Dearest Wife, Darling Daughter, and Little Man for the first. Our bag is a backpack, and it holds not much: three changes of underwear and socks apiece, a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and a fleece for each of us, lots of sunscreen, a water bottle, a big pack of Wet Wipes (indispensible in arid climes, let me tell you), a roll of toilet paper, a first-aid kit, and a camera. We will wear our hats and sturdy boots.

When we land, I will try not to cry with joy at being back. By day we will wander across the ancient Namib desert, marvel at the stately rock formations, admire the industrious tok-tok beetle, congratulate the chameleon on his cleverness, ponder the peculiar quiver tree, and revere the thousand-year-old welwitchia plants. At night, we will sleep in the open under a limitless, inky-black sky sprinkled profusely with shimmering, diamond-dust stars. And they will understand why I fell so deeply in love with this land in such a short time.

Q: Who always makes you laugh?

Always? Always?? Without fail??? That'll be Matt Lucas. In all his guises --from "He's A Baby" George Dawes to chavvy Vicky Pollard to the frightening Bubbles DeVere -- he never fails to make me howl with laughter. Yes, I love the Python gang to bits, but I will admit that some of their work fails to tickle my funny bone. Matt Lucas, on the other hand, has not missed yet.

Q: What is your favorite swear word?

Favourite as opposed to most often used? That'll be "arse." Such a satisfying, all-purpose word. with just a hint of absurdity that takes the nasty edge off. But according to Dearest Wife, the most used work is "fuck."

Memo to self: less "fuck," more "arse."

So, if anyone feel stirred to continue the chain (remember: dog, scrofula), ask nicely via comment or e-mail and I'll devise five searching questions for you. You'll then answer them and either post them on your very own blog, or else pop them down in the comments section below, should you be blogless. Finally, you'll invite others to be interviewed by you, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Who needs Oprah when you've got us??


pascal said...

Hi there,
I found your post through the hype machine. The whole chain interview is quite a nice idea. Your replies seem to reflect on a life well lived; and to say it all started with the Sex Pistols ( I once annoyed my parents for a week of driving around Bali only playing the Smiths, the Sex Pistols and Kirsty MacColl on the car's stereo). Looking at your profile I also noticed that we have a fairly similar taste in films, music and books.
In any case your selection of tunes made my day. Have a nice one too.

Natsthename said...

I loved reading the answers, FiL! And an excellent soundtrack to life, it is. And, not knowing Matt Lucas, I had to click the link. I feel compelled now, to check out the work, since I LOVE to laugh loud and long and clear! HAHAHAHAHA! (and it's getting worse every year.)

Thanks for playing along!

JC said...

The only problem is that you have given such full and funny answers that the rest of us who fancied trying this would look like amateurs (which to be fair, is probably an accurate assessment).

If I could move to Vancouver, I most certainly would.

mjrc said...

what a great idea! what wonderful insights into the mind of fil! what great questions nat chose!

Anonymous said...

A fellow WGTB alum from the mid '80s, huh?

Ah, the wonderful days in the basement of Copley Hall, knowing that your voice was being heard by bored folks in the Healy basement – and that's about it.

Amazing who you find on the Internet these days. Now, put on a Marti Jones mp3 on your lovely blog (yes, really) for a mutual friend of ours from Rockville.

Crash Calloway said...

Ask Me! There's a serious lack of mindless bulletin questionaires on Myspace these days. Let's keep that chain a-movin'.

Hey - sfx in the verification - that was one of those 'music magazines on tape - I've got issue one somewhere but I'm pretty sure I taped a compilation over the issue.

Elizabeth said...

That was lovely to read FiL. And congratulations...your song selections have outed you as a tweegoth. I'll be along sortly with your beret and black brolly.

Anonymous said...

Cher FiL,

Yes they were heady days indeed, back when Weller's words made me want to shake up the world - god, my convictions were so nebulous then. Not that they are fully crystallised yet, 20 years later.

Is 'Strange Town' your fave Jam track? I would say mine has always been 'Thick as Thieves'.

And good on ya for the Bauhaus. I fancy I am to this day more goth than not (yes, stop chuckling! 39 year olds can be moody and booted)and still never tire of my beloved Siouxsie, Dead Can Dance and Cocteaus.

A bientot,


FiL said...

Hi Pascal! Thanks for stopping by and for the friendly comment. Glad you liked the music!

Dearest Nats, many thanks for asking such fine questions! Matt Lucas is both quite English and, at times, obscurely absurd. But I hope he tickles your funny bone as much as he does mine...

Dearest JC: Oh, pshaw! Go on - we'd all be keen to hear what you'd have to say! As for emigrating, if you ever decide to consider it, even idly, happy to share my experience. For years we said "if only, if only," but then we said "why not??"

Dearest Marcy, I'm surprised seeing the dust bunnies of my mind didn't send you away running...

Hello Anonymous! A fellow GTBer from the dark days... It may not have been 50,000 watts of power, but we did keep the station going through the grace of carrier current and dedication and against official apathy/hostility. And I do recall we were broadcast sporadically in New South Cafeteria as well - I got reprimanded once for playing 'Flat Out Fucked' by Mudhoney during dinner...

And as for Marti Jones, that got me thinking of Don Dixon, who had an insanely catchy, hooky song on one of those CMJ compilations. I can't remember what it was, but I'll track it down coz it's driving me NUTS!!

Rock Like A Mother...

Dearest Crash - will do! As soon as I can think up a few mindless questions... You taped over SFX 1? Were C60s so dear back in the 1980s??

Dearest Liz - many thanks! Do I get NHS glasses to boot? "In the twee fields I do get bored / Wearing flowr'y dress it's Guy Debord!!"

Dearest, Dearest Bishakh - crystallization is overrated, mon cher...

Favourite Jam song? Gosh, that's a poser. Not sure I can choose. "Strange Town" I do like, but truth be told I chose it because a quick scan showed it wasn't floating around the blogosphere.

And come to think of it, I think YOU might actually be the uber-tweegoth...

Anonymous said...

That song would probably be "Praying Mantis," which I have luckily saved amid all my mp3s.

I could send it to you. But then I'd have to break the mask of anonymity -- and that would be no fun.

Lots of Marti stuff too. As well as the Slickee Boys. No Pressure Boys yet, though.

FiL said...

Indeed, it was "Praying Mantis," as I figured out after a quarter-hour mucking about on the www. Then I found it on e-music, and scratched my itch. Ah, whatever did we do before the interwebbynetty...??

So thanks for tha, and rest assured I won't now feel compelled to wheedle and whine for that mp3, and your anonymity can be preserved!

Slickee Boys... Pressure Boys... Can one keel over from excess nostalgia?

Anonymous said...

No, one cannot. Airband anyone? Or nights at the Pub with the Homogenized Cows?

A good section of my mp3 collection is given over to nostalgia and things from WGTB/WROX that I'd never thought I'd ever obtain digitally – although Arcade Fire, Josh Rouse and Vienna Teng also have prominent places on the old Itunes playlist. has lots of Don and Marti stuff – including the entire (and sadly overlooked)"Unsophisticated Time" album. Very worthy organization too. I'd suggest a click over there.

ally. said...

sweet stuff.
if t
you weren't so far away i'd invite you out for a small drop of what killed auntie