Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Untitled Interview #10: Starring Ripley Johnson (Wooden Shjips)

I love Wooden Shjips for a multitude of reasons, not least of which because listening to them evokes a certain reaction unreachable by most bands. That unholy mess of tangled fuzz, dizzying drone, and intensity will most likely cause all sorts of confusion, disorientation, and loss of motor skills. The first time I heard the Shjips, I didn't know which way was up, my right from my left, or where I was. But hot damn, I don't know about you but I loved, and love, every second of it.

In mere hours I'll be seeing the Shjips at All Tomorrow's Parties here in the lovely Catskills, where the man, the myth, the legend Ripley Johnson will be kicking some sonic ass. Johnson was kind enough to answer my invasive questions, see below. And another reason I love the Shjips? Finally, someone answered the Beatles or Stones question correctly. If you're at ATP, make sure to see Wooden Shjips. If not, pretend you are by purchasing their music and turning it up nice and loud.


Les Enfants Terribles
: How the hell are you?

Ripley Johnson
: I'm great. Thanks.


LET
: What was the last song you listened to?

RJ
: "In the Kingdom #19", Sonic Youth. I'm listening to EVOL right now.


LET
: Playing music is _
RJ: sweaty fun_.

LET
:
What album most made you realize that you wanted to make music?
RJ
:
Exile on Main Street by the Rolling Stones. I wanted to live in a chateau in the south of France and party and make records in the basement.

LET
:
Beatles or Stones?
RJ: Stones, natch. I really don't care for the Beatles. Believe it, haters.

LET: What're your top 5 albums (of this minute, this year, or ever)?
RJ
:
I'll give you the 5 top records of this morning:
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - Strictly Personal

Vermonster - Holy Sound of American Pipe

Sic Alps - U.S. EZ

Suicide - Ghost Riders

Les Rallizes Denudes - some 80's boot with no name

LET
:
Favorite music-related movie?
RJ: "Psych Out" with Jack Nicholson as the leader of a band called Mumblin' Jim and the world's most ridiculous fake ponytail. It also has a cameo by the Seeds in a cemetary. Plus it has my second favorite actor, Bruce Dern.

LET
:
What city or venue would you like to play, but haven't yet been to?
RJ
:
Tokyo or somewhere on Ibiza.

LET
:
What's your favorite song to perform in concert?
RJ
:
We've been doing a cover of Neil Young's "Vampire Blues". That's my new favorite.

LET
:
Half-full or half-empty?
RJ
:
Half-full. Always.

LET
:
At how many festivals have you performed? And which festival has been your favorite, either in terms of performing or spectating?
RJ
:
We've done 6 or so I think. They've all been fun, but the first time we went to SXSW was probably my favorite just because it was so overwhelming and overwhelmingly fun.

LET
:
What are your initial impressions of the lineup for All Tomorrow's Parties?
RJ: Yes! That was my first impression. A lot of the bands I've never heard before. That's what I like about festivals, hearing bands for the first time. Though I've heard of them. I've never heard Shellac, Mogwai, Mercury Rev, Built To Spill, Tortoise, or about 80% of the other bands. It will be fun.

LET
:
Apart from your band, of course, who among your peers do you think is making the best music these days?
RJ
:
Los Llamarada, Sic Alps, Earthless, the Bad Trips, Expo 70, XYX, Fabulous Diamonds, Times New Viking, Der TPK, etc...

LET
:
What's the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?
RJ
:
Cup o' joe, morning paper, cat get off me.

LET
:
The greatest record store in the world is:
RJ: Amoeba.

LET
:
What's the longest flight you've ever been on, and where were you going?
RJ
:
SF to Casablanca. I have a thing for Morocco.

LET
:
If you could share the stage with any musician, living or dead, who would it be, and how come?
RJ: Neil Young, because I respect him and he lives just down the peninsula. Maybe we could be friends and he would invite me over for BBQs.

LET
:
Shaken or stirred?
RJ
:
Whatever's quickest.

LET
:
If you were a wooden ship, you would be: a) a dinghy, b) a canoe, or c) a galleon.
RJ: Canoe.

LET
:
Best song ever written?
RJ
:
Really? "Song To Abe Lincoln" - Roky Erickson


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