THE FANZINE THAT FEATURES SMALL AND UNSIGNED BANDS
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
INTERVIEW WITH 17 PYGMIES
Well, hello the first logic question…why does a band like 17 Pygmies change for such a different style?
BECAUSE IF YOU ALWAYS CHANGE STYLES THEN EVENTUALLY EVERYONE WILL REALIZE YOU HAVE NO STYLE.
I guess I know the answer, but I am sure that you were aware of the danger in sales for coming up with an album like “The outlaw J.D. Ray”, not?
Which brings me back to the past…. As a youngster, due to my love for Independent Projects, I came across 17 Pygmies. Over here they certainly were not what you could name as a household name but how were things for you back then?
ACTUALLY, WE WERE VERY POPULAR IN THE LA CLUB SCENE FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS. WE HAD INTEREST FROM ELECTRA, CAPITOL AND ISLAND RECORDS. WE EVENTUALLY DID SIGN WITH ISLAND/GREAT JONES AND RELEASED AN ALBUM WHICH GOT US DROPPED ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. SO I GUESS YOU COULD SAY LIFE WAS PRETTY INTERSTING.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always saw the whole Independent Project-movement (and thus 17 Pygmies too) as the way Americans saw post-punk.
I WOULD AGREE. WE TENDED TO SEE OURSELVES AS THE CALIFORNIA COMPONENT TO THE EAST COAST’S SONIC YOUTH AND SWANS, AND THE MIDWESTS BIG BLACK. OF COURSE AT THE TIME THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS POST-PUNK SO WE TENDED TO JUST GET A LOT OF BLANK STARES AND THE LIKE. AS I RECALL, THE NEW ROMANTIC MOVEMENT WAS ACTUALLY A LOT BIGGER BACK THEN.
In times where R&’nB seems to be the sole thing which youngsters buy, are you aware that you stood at the cradle of making genius legendary music, or is it just bollocks in the end?
IF YOU WOULD HAVE TOLD ME BACK THEN THAT I WAS MAKING GENIUS MUSIC OR BOLLOCKS I WOULD NOT HAVE BELIEVED EITHER ONE, SO I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO SAY EXCEPT WE DID WHAT WE DID AND LET THE CHIPS FALL.
Just like so many American alternative bands you never made it to the European playground, is that something which was difficult to handle with?
NOPE. WENT WITH SAVAGE REPUBLIC MANY TIMES AND I HATE TOURING.
Just like all influential bands you were once picked by some major but that ended up quite bad, not?
YEP. SEE ABOVE.
As “pioneers” which advice would you give to young bands if they got the change to sign to some major?
TAKE THE $$$ IF YOU CAN. IT WAS JUST ANOTHER RECORD TO ME.
In all honesty I am not that familiar with your later stuff but “Ballade of Tristram’s Last Harping” was some kind of psychedelic music and now you have a country/folk album out. Wanna explore all types of music then ?
YOU KNOW, WESTERN MUSIC IS FUNNY. THERE ARE ONLY 8 NOTES AND FRANKLY, I CAN’T UNDERSTAND HOW BANDS GO OUT AND PLAY THE SAME SONGS OVER AND OVER AND OVER. I MEAN, I’M ALSO A PAINTER AND NOBODY EVER ASKS ME TO PAINT THE SAME PAINTING TWICE, SO WHY SHOULD I PLAY THE SAME SONG, OR EVER WRITE IN THE SAME STYLE TWICE?
So if you follow the logic in it all, it can be that the next album will be something totally different then....
ACTUALLY, I’M WORKING ON CELESTINA II AND YES, IT WILL BE SLIGHTLY DIFFERNT THAN ALL THOSE THAT WENT BEFORE. VIVA LA VIDA PYGMY ! WE DO WHAT WE WANT WHEN WE WANT. WHAT COULD BE BETTER ?
One of the keymembers Jackson recently made some soundtracks from silent movies like « Battleship Potemkin » or « Tarzan », can you tell something about it ?
I AM VERY FOND OF SILENT MOVIES AND FIND IT CHANLLENGING TO WRITE MODERN SCORES AS A WAY TO « UPDATE » THOSE CLASSIC FILMS AND HOOPEFULLY EXPOSE THEM TO A NEW AUDIENCE. IN PARTICULAR, I STILL CONSIDER BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN ONE OF THE GREATEST FILMS EVER MADE. DEFINITELY IN MY TOP THREE AND BEING AN ANGELINO MOST OF MY LIFE I’VE SEEN THOUSANDS OF FILMS.
For a band that cares so much about their artwork, what do you think of the digital download area ?
ACUALLY, I’M NOT AGAINST DIGITAL DOWNLOADS. I THINK THE MUSIC SHOULD STAND BY ITSELF. BUT, GIVEN MY CHOICE, I WOULD ALWAYS OPT FOR THE PHYSICAL PRODUCT BECAUSE I ACKNOWLEGE AND ADMIRE ARTISTS WHO PUT EXTRA EFFORT INTO THEIR WORK AND I TRUST OUR AUDIENCE WILL FEEL THE SAME.
I ask this everybody.... What’s your fave record of all time and please state why...
MY FAVORITE « RECORD » OF ALL TIME IS ACTUALLY TWO RECORDS THAT I ALWAYS LISTEN TO TOGETHER AND ALWAYS THINK OF AS ONE RECORD. 1. ONE NATION UNDERGROUND AND BALACLAVA BY PEARLS BEFORE SWINE. I JUST CAN’T GET OVER HOW DIFFERENT/ACCESSIBLE/MELODIC/MEANINGFUL THAT TOM RAPP FELLA MANAGED TO MAKE BOTH ALBUMS. AND ALL UNBELIEVEABLY TIMELESS. THESE ARE THE DISCS THAT OPENED ME UP TO THE POSSIBILITIES OF MUSIC AND WHY IT WAS AN IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE THING TO ALWAYS STRIVE TO DO DOMETHING UNIQUE.
Always wanted to know, why does a band name themselves 17 Pygmies ?
MY BIRTHDAY IS THE 17TH OF NOVEMBER AND A « FLOCK OF PYGMIES » WAS ALREADY TAKEN.