The Untitled Interview #122: Record Shopping Edition – Starring Generationals

This one here is from the vault, y’all, and it’s definitely about time it saw the light of day. Many moons ago I had the pleasure of going for a little retail trip with the delightful lads and lasses of Generationals, and thanks to the hospitality of the good people of Plan 9 down in Richmond there was quite a bounty to be had. The Louisianans are bringing their good time summer fun time sound back to the DC metro for a few dates very, very soon, which is good news for everyone. They're hands down some of my favorite people, band or otherwise. So in case you’ve ever wondered what lurks in the record collections of Grant Widmer, Ted Joyner, and Tess Brunet, wonder no more. Here’s a little sampling of their musical inclinations. Pull up a chair and enjoy.

Fuzzy Logic: Please explain why you chose your respective albums.

Grant Widmer: Ok. Paul Simon - There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, every song really here is an American classic, but especially the song “Take Me to Mardi Gras,” where he talks about New Orleans, and then he says, “Where the dancing is elite/and there’s music in the street/in New Orleans,” right, which is where we’re from, and we were listening to it the other day, and he kinda swallows the second half of the word elite, and Ted heard it and he was like “where the dancing is illegal?” That’s actually inaccurate. Anyway. But I love this album. Kodachrome we used to play in school, and it says “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school/It’s a wonder I can think at all,” and then I would change the words and go, [sings] “When I look back on all the crap I learned in architecture…” [interlude while Ted looks for seating] I think Randy Newman’s one of the best songwriters. Saw him in Baton Rouge about a year or two ago, at a nice new theatre and it was really special. This is a song called “Kingfish” about Huey Long, who’s a cult hero in Baton Rouge. We used to live just a few blocks from the capital in Baton Rouge where he was gunned down as a US Senator. But yeah. Randy Newman’s a great chronicaler of Louisiana and American life. In Baton Rouge there’s an animatronic Huey Long, where you can go into the old state capital building, and when you walk in the room he like comes to life and goes, [Grant herein adopts thick, languid Long-ian accent] “Welcome to my world,” and he has like 5 or 6 different programs that he goes through about, like, “The Depression is upon us,” and “Spread the wealth, every man a king, a chicken in every pot…” [giggling ensues] So yeah. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Damn The Torpedoes, this is the one where Tom’s having a big argument with his record label, which was a lawsuit that took him a lot of years but he actually won his lawsuit, and this is his second really full album (ed. technically third) as Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. This is the one that Jimmy Iovine produced in New York, and he said he was really surprised by it because it was his second album, usually an artist’s first album will be material from 15 years that they’ve been just thinking of and working on forever, and then the second one is all from six months, but the second one was way better than his first one, which was how Jimmy knew that he had a really hit artist. “Refugee,” etc. “Here Comes My Girl,” “Even the Losers”…that’s your second album? That’s pretty good. Neil Young I like cuz he plays guitar like a crazy person, but he doesn’t seem like he’s especially skillful in a way that, like, Santana is or something, but he’s like abstract genius guitar player, and there’s some really good songs on this, “Cinnamon Girl” etc. And then this one, like I said earlier, was a record that was in the jukebox at the bar that I worked at for a few years, and I have one friend who’s a dear friend who just loved it, and everyday when we’d get to work he’d play like five dollars worth of songs from Herb Alpert, so whenever I hear it it just takes me back to that…(breaks into song)…it’s kinda like this jazzy, brassy, it’s kinda goofy and makes you wanna do Pee Wee Herman dances and stuff. I can’t wait to put this on cuz it’s gonna immediately take me back to that. So those are mine.

Ted Joyner: I bought The Kinks because I don’t have any Kinks records, actually, cuz I lost all my music, it was in my laptop, and all my Kinks was on there, and also they’re such a prolific band, and I feel like I only just now got into ‘em, I’ve been into them maybe a couple years now, it’s just taken me a long time to get into them. I’ll get into some of their stuff and just have to sit with it for so long. Like “Waterloo Sunset,” I had to like just deal with that song for a long time before I got over it. We also covered a Kinks song. I think everyone in the band is kinda really into The Kinks. We covered “Victoria” on our last tour, which was kinda fun. Tess is a big Kinks song. And then Grant pointed out to me that this particular one has some really good songs on it, so I got it. And then my second choice was Fat Boys, [interjection from Tess: “Good choice, by the way”] which Tess is really jealous of, but she informed me that one of them recently passed away which is really sad. But I hadn’t thought about these guys in a while, and I think the album art is actually hilarious. In addition, my mom is a schoolteacher, and she actually met these guys, because in their heyday they visited her school to raise awareness about…pizza [mass laughter]. No, I think they showed up to, like, rap, but I think there was a message there too about “don’t do drugs.” So my mom got to meet them, and that looks like school cafeteria pizza now that I think about it. Just for the record, the album art includes the Fat Boys all eating or drinking something and looking at a giant pizza upon which there are miniature versions of them, eating the pizza, as prisoners. Anyway, another note on my mom and rappers, she actually taught, in first grade, she teaches first grade, about 20 years ago, she taught Dwayne Carter, who’s actually L’il Wayne, she taught him how to read and she said he was really smart and he sat at the smart table. So she’s hung out with Fat Boys and L’il Wayne. So I was gonna give this record to my Mom. And those are my choices.

Tess Brunet: This one is Dick Jensen Giant of Hawaii, and I got this sheerly based on the artwork. I love the polyester zip-up suit, and you can see, well, y’know, it’s kinda hanging out there…[interjection from Grant: “I think the Giants of Hawaii is in reference to his balls”] [much laughing] but he’s with these lovely ladies on the front, he’s very happy…and he’s very happy alone on the back, as well, looking very satisfied. And then I’ve never owned a Rush album, believe it or not, kinda crazy that I don’t have a Rush album, so I had to get a Rush album. The next two are both Kenny Rogers. I love love love Kenny Rogers, especially Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. A lot of people I don’t think know that he went through this psychedelic phase. And then this one’s not Kenny Rogers’ psychedelic phase, but it says What About Me, and I thought that was really interesting considering the photo in the back because it looks like some love tryst goin on in there, and he’s like “what about me?” I thought that was kinda weird. So I got it because I had to see what this record was all about. Cuz I wanna know what about Kenny Rogers and why he’s even posing such questions. Why would anyone deny Kenny Rogers? And Purple Rain, of course, I love Purple Rain. It’s a great record. Never owned it. I mean, the purple suit with the metal on the side. It’s just really great, the purple motorcycle…and then, you know, the unisex symbol, the arrow and the plus sign in one. And I don’t know anything about these guys, DC’s number one band, but it’s printed on the album so I thought that was pretty important. [interjection wherein Laura and I inform the band about Chuck Brown being the godfather of go-go] Well, I lucked out.

FL: Who among you has the biggest record collection?

GW: I don’t know. I’ve never seen your record collection.

TB: Probably me.

GW: Probably Tess.

TB: Just taking a wild guess. I don’t know, how many records do you have?

GW: At some point, a lot of ‘em are on my computer, a lot of them I don’t have physical copies of…my dad used to have a really big record collection that I would kinda steal things from. I was in Columbia House CD club, alright, so I probably got a couple hundred CDs in my collection all from like 1995. I was probably in like 6th grade, I’m gonna get Snoop Doggy Dogg Tha Dogfather, the second one, cuz I wanna see what he comes back with. He’s already got Doggy Style, how can he top this? But yeah, Tess probably has more…I’ll give you that one.

TB: It would be quite a project to actually sit down and figure out how many records I have. I wouldn’t even wanna do that.

FL: Would you describe yourself as avid, middler, or novice collector?

GW: Pre-novice. I just don’t have any place to put stuff anymore, so I can’t even house a collection.

TJ: I don’t think I’ve ever devoured music quickly enough, I’m kinda slow in general, and I lose it all the time, or it gets stolen…so yeah, novice.

TB: I dunno. Pretty avid. Yeah. I kinda go through it quickly, like I know right away if I’m gonna wanna listen to it or I like it. So I’ll just spend time with three main songs on a record and then if I don’t like it I’m not gonna even bother listening to the rest.

FL: What’s the one record you’d save from a burning building?

[much thoughtful silence]

TB: Well, probably some of these that are in this stack right now that I got for a dollar.

GW & TJ in tandem: Fat Boys, probably, you’d like burn yourself, “Get the Fat Boys!” [chuckling]

TB: Probably my Andre Williams Detroit Grease. I would definitely save that from a burning building.

FL: What’s the most embarrassing record in your collection?

GW: Fat Boys right here for this guy. [all eyes on Ted]

TJ: But I’d also risk my life to save it, cuz I’m most embarrassed by it. I’d save it just to make sure it wouldn’t be found in the shards by forensic people.

TB: I wouldn’t be embarrassed by that.

GW: Yeah, police found remnants of a very troubled man who evidently had just bought a Fat Boys album.

TJ: No, no, I’m not embarrassed by the Fat Boys.

GW: Snoop Doggy Dog Tha Dogfather. I know that’s a little bit redundant…

TB: I personally believe that no record is too embarrassing, but if I had to pick one it would probably be Jody Watley’s “I’m Looking for a New Love.” Some people think Heart is embarrassing, but I don’t think so.

TJ: Terrible things? Aerosmith Big Ones I think is probably embarrassing?

GW: I think there’s some good shit on there.

TB: I know, me too.

TJ: Spin Doctors? Pocket Full of Kryptonite?

TB: Now we’re getting somewhere! But does anybody actually own that?

FL: What’s the most you’ve ever spent on an album? What was it? And was it worth it?

TB: Same answer. Andre Williams Detroit Grease.

GW: How much did you pay for that?

TB: 33 bucks.

GW: 33 bucks? That is a lot for an album. I think I got like a double CD of Beatles live at the BBC when that came out for like $18.99 or something, but that was pretty worth it cuz it’s a pretty big collection. But I don’t ever think I’d spend more than that.

TJ: Ever heard of an artist called Syreeta? Stevie Wonder produced some of her stuff. There was this song in this movie called Junebug. It’s a great song. I heard this song and I had to have this song, and I was looking for it all over the place but I could only find it on this one thing, that was like this huge compilation that cost like a hundred dollars. I really, really liked that one song, but I didn’t wanna spend that much money. That’s the closest I ever came to just saying “fuck it, I need it.”

FL: What’s your favorite place to buy records?

TJ: This place is pretty good.

GW: Amoeba is awesome, Waterloo Records in Austin…I could spend all day in there.

TB: Probably Waterloo Records and Domino in New Orleans. Probably those are my top two.

GW: I’ll say Amoeba in LA. That’s pretty much the biggest one I’ve ever seen.

FL: What’s your pick for best album of all time?

[contemplative silence]

TJ: Give me Thriller? It holds up.

TB: Jesus of Cool. Nick Lowe. I could think of a couple Kinks records. Something Else by the Kinks

GW: Like a Rolling Stone is pretty good.

TB: Jody Watley. “I’m Looking for a New Love.”

GW: Jody Watley. Gotta be. Any conversation about the best record ever has to include Jody Watley “I’m Looking for a New Love,” otherwise you’re just not being serious.

TB: Whitney Houston. The self-titled one with “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” on it.

GW: Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation 1816. I’m just sayin. Just the interludes alone make it, has to be considered. Steely Dan Aja. Ted loves that one.

TJ: That’s my favorite classics documentary making of. I enjoy the story of the making of that album. There’s definitely Beatles albums I could listen to every day for the rest of my life, but that’s pretty easy.

FL: Most important - Food or Music?

GW: I’m gonna say food.

TB: That’s tough.

GW: I feel like the right answer’s music but…

TB: Right answer’s not music I’m afraid here. I dunno. That’s tough. I love food.

GW: We were thinking about quitting this band and starting a band of roving chefs instead.

TB: We’re gonna have our own reality show, take it on the road, compete with other bands in different cities, just cooking not music.

TJ: Lack of music would probably be a more drawn-out death, cuz you’d just kinda go crazy and then probably kill yourself, but you’d get to live that much longer, whereas food, no food would kill you. I mean, how long could you really go?

TB: That’s true. Do you want a quicker death or do you want a longer death?

TJ: Two really crummy deaths.

GW: I’m saying food still.

Generationals play Red Palace 5/13 and Iota 5/17. Both shows with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Make sure you catch at least one.

mp3: Ten-Twenty-Ten (Generationals from Actor Caster)

[photo by Laura O'Neill]


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