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Pitchfork Feature: Interview: The Gutter Twins

Pitchfork Feature: Interview: The Gutter Twins

Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan are two of the most intimidating dudes in rock’n’roll, their lengthy discographies littered with bad drugs, bad women, and the violence (physical, emotional, and spiritual) that surrounds these bad situations.

As the frontmen for the Afghan Whigs and the Screaming Trees, respectively, they spent the mid-1980s through the late 1990s on the fringes of grunge and alt-rock, building up loyal followings among those searching for something just a little more evil. When those bands disintegrated, Dulli started a new project, the Twilight Singers. Lanegan continued a solo career that had begun with his 1990 album The Winding Sheet, did time in Queens of the Stone Age, and made an album with former Belle and Sebastian member Isobel Campbell. Both men also contributed to too many other musical projects to mention in one sitting.

The idea of Dulli and Lanegan collaborating together as the Gutter Twins has been in the works since 2003, and Lanegan joined the Twilight Singers on tour in 2006. But it wasn’t until last year that the pair finally turned their full attention to the project. Saturnalia, the Gutter Twins’ debut, was released earlier this year by Sub Pop, a label that the Afghan Whigs, the Screaming Trees, and Lanegan solo had recorded for in the 1990s. The album is yet another exploration of the dark side, searching for salvation among the temptations of the flesh.

Throughout the interview, Dulli drank iced tea and Lanegan watched the Bulls play the Celtics on TV (on mute). We broke the ice by chatting about the 1993 Phillies. Turns out these guys like sports. A lot. In fact, sports are pretty much the only thing Mark Lanegan wants to talk about these days…

Pitchfork: How did you end up back on Sub Pop? It’s been over a decade and a half since you guys last put out records on that label.

Greg Dulli: The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. That’s my answer.

Pitchfork: [laughs] Mark, do you agree? Is that it?

GD: He didn’t even hear what I said.

Mark Lanegan: What he said.

Pitchfork: [laughs] OK then! It’s funny thinking about you guys in the context of Sub Pop now; they have such a varied roster, but very little of it has much in common with the kind of music the Gutter Twins are making. How does it feel to be on a label with, like, the Shins and Iron and Wine?

GD: I think the Shins and Iron and Wine make nice music, you know? I don’t know a lot about them but I’ve heard some stuff. You just kind of like what you like. Even when I was on Sub Pop, luckily, I liked Mudhoney, I liked Tad, I liked Nirvana, I liked the Fluid, I liked L7, I liked Cat Butt. So I did like the bands they were putting out. When they first started putting out Mark’s solo records that, to me, was their first turn into another style of music. He was certainly trying something new but…I like what I like, I don’t really associate it with towns or movements of labels.

I listen to new music frequently. Jeff Klein, he plays keyboards in our group, he’s like 29 or 30, he turned me on to Pitchfork and Stereogum and stuff like that. I don’t really read much music stuff but I was aware of this kind of– and I’m going to get killed for saying this– snarky hipsterism, exclusionary thing. It’s like, “We listen to bands that haven’t even formed yet.” That punk rock thing of trying to be cool…

Pitchfork: Well, that attitude certainly isn’t anything new, it’s not like the internet invented music snobbery…

GD: …and as soon as some other dude likes what you like you can’t like it anymore. You have to move to the next thing. I just think that’s kind of– and I’m not saying your site or the site you work for is like that– but that’s always a thing that repelled me. I mean I can certainly see a band like Nirvana, like when they started having to play to the kind of guys that beat them up in high school– that was probably shocking. But you make music to move people and you don’t get to pick who you move. You just don’t. It’s exclusionary and elitist and I just never felt that way about music, of all things. The great unifier.

Pitchfork: Mark, do you have anything to add?

ML: [looking at television screen] I was just thinking how big [Boston Celtics forward] Glen Davis was in college. He was humongous. They just had a picture of him in his LSU uniform.

GD: Big Baby.

ML: Yeah, he must’ve weighed like 350.

GD: I think he was pushing 400, I think he was 370.

ML: Wow.

GD: He’s still over 300 pounds.

Pitchfork: So Mark, basketball’s your big thing? Music and basketball?

ML: I enjoy watching basketball, yeah.

Pitchfork: Do you play at all?

ML: I have not played in quite a few years. Only time I did play recently was me and my dad played in December and he beat me.

GD: In Alaska? Really?

ML: Yeah, he’s 73 years old, my dad is.

GD: Where was he shooting from?

ML: Way out.

Pitchfork: Must be in good shape.

GD: I played basketball all through school and then even played in this 30-and-under league for a little while. It’s funny, as long as I’ve known him [Lanegan], I guess we’ve never been around a basketball court, but at some point this run [we should]. We threw a baseball on the last Twilights tour, in North Carolina, and my arm hurt for a week after that. But Mark pitched in high school.

Pitchfork: Greg, do you think you could take Mark in a basketball game? He did get beat by a 73-year-old guy.

GD: If his dad can take him…I’m not saying I could take him in a one-on-one game, but if his dad beat him it would take me exactly 20 minutes to dial in three shots that are really hard to follow up in HORSE. Coffin corner, top of the key, way out to the left side, and a couple of weird lay-ups.

ML: Hope you’re good with your left hand.

GD: I am, actually. Are you gonna call left hand shot?

ML: Yeah.

GD: Oh shit. All right.

ML: The gauntlet has been thrown down. [laughs]

GD: Well I’m ready for that. Can you hit with your left hand? Are you ambidextrous?

ML: I shoot really well with my left hand.

GD: Can you throw with your left hand?

ML: I’ve had to, yeah. Actually I played a game left-handed once.

GD: Wow. What position did you play?

ML: Second base.

Pitchfork: Why?

ML: I fucked up my shoulder and we didn’t have enough guys on our team.

Pitchfork: I imagine a basketball team’s a lot like a band. Everyone’s got their thing…

GD: Everybody’s got their role. Drawing up the plays, strategizing before the play. Absolutely.

Pitchfork: You guys both spent many years in a single band, but now you seem to be drifting around, collaborating with different people all the time. Is that a result of having been in one group for so long? Is it kind of like being married and then getting divorced, playing the field again?

GD: I think when you’re young and you get together with a group of guys who think like you and you start to make something that moves you as a group of people and you have a common goal, that’s an exciting time. The more years you put behind you, hopefully making music that surpasses what you did before, you’re playing bigger places and it kind of weirdly becomes a business. In my opinion young bands have a shelf life and it ranges in time. I’m really glad the Whigs went to make [final album, 1998’s] 1965 because honestly it’s my favorite record that we made. It was the most fun I had on tour with them and I was even looking forward to making another record with them. In between that time and the time it took to make another record, it just wasn’t there anymore. And you have to know when that is.

Since then, the ability to play with different people is infinitely fascinating to me. Just the people I’ve played with: I’ve played with [Cypress Hill DJ/producer] Muggs, I’ve played with [Italian band] Afterhours, I’ve played with Mark, I’ve played with [British rave group] Lo Fidelity Allstars, who I love. Intramural [the latest project from Denver Dalley of Desaparecidos and Statistics]. I’ve jammed with Lucinda Williams, you know. And that’s not to mention that I played with the MC5, I played with War, the Whigs toured with Aerosmith and Neil Young.

So I’ve kind of gotten to do a lot of things and meet a lot of people that I admired outside of what I did. When you get a chance to play with people–informally is one thing, but when you hook up and make something that’s going to last or mean something to someone, I take it very seriously. I take it no less seriously than the band I was in for 15 years; it’s just a new place that I’m in. I’m in the Gutter Twins right now and that’s what I am. But if I’m a Twilight Singer next year, it will be with no less passion.

Pitchfork: So what’s the plan right now for this? Is there going to be another Gutter Twins album? Will this name stick around for a while?

ML: We enjoyed the process of making the record, we enjoyed the results, we enjoy each other’s company, we enjoy traveling together. So I don’t know why we wouldn’t make another record. Whether it’s the next thing that we do or not, I can’t really say, but I’m sure that there’ll be another one.

GD: I haven’t had this much fun touring, ever. I get to hear him sing every night, I get to sing with him. We’ve done this so many times, there’s no hassle, the band and crew all get along. It’s a joy to do, you know? And the fact that we go out and there’s a rammed house every night, and they didn’t even know the songs…

Pitchfork: Yeah, the record just came out this week.

GD: …but we won them over every time. It’s very encouraging.

Pitchfork: Mark, do you share that feeling? Is this the best time you’ve ever had on tour?

ML: It’s great, I get to hang out with my friends, hang out, play music.

Pitchfork: Does this feel like a comfortable place for you? Is this is where you want to be– this band right now? You seem to be a very restless musical spirit, always looking for something new.

ML: It’s just that we’ve played together a lot of times, this is new, new songs, new experience. So yeah, of course, I’m digging it.

Pitchfork: You guys are in a lucky place that I’m sure a lot of bands envy. You’ve built up a loyal fanbase that will be interested in pretty much anything you put your name on.

GD: Yeah, but you’ve got to back it up, man. The thing is, if you just stick your name on something…eh. You could do yourself damage, too, by putting your name on something that sucks. And suck is relative, but I’ve never put my name on something that I didn’t believe in 100%.

Pitchfork: The rock star perception of you guys is that you’re scary, dangerous, evil. I mean, you call yourselves the Gutter Twins, for one thing. How much of that is myth, how much of that is theater? Because I’m sitting here with you guys, and you don’t seem very frightening.

ML: We’re too old to be scary.

GD: The interview’s not over yet, either.

Pitchfork: [laughs] That’s true. But is it a persona? I mean it’s a good persona, it makes for great records.

GD: I think a myth is created from truth and I think the fact that we haven’t gone around and publicized every aspect of our lives like a lot of people do– it’s such an instant gratification backstage access entertainment world, with websites where you go into people’s houses, “here’s my car, here’s my girlfriend,” and I don’t really want to know all that stuff about people. I would prefer that you were like Led Zeppelin, who didn’t let anybody take pictures and weren’t on their album covers. Pink Floyd, too. When they came to your town, you went because you wanted to see if they were real or not. And all the stuff: Jimmy Page lived in Aleister Crowley’s castle? Wow. But I didn’t get to see it, you know?

There’s just so little mystery left in music or film. It was all that was magical to me as a child. And I’m a very private person. What I did in the past or what somebody heard me do or has a bootleg of me doing…well, if you have a bootleg, then I did it. But I’ve never presented myself as anything less than a flawed person.

Pitchfork: You’re a private person, but you put forth a public persona that is in some way rooted in who you are, right?

GD: Yeah, but Al Pacino isn’t Tony Montana. That’s why I always liked Bowie, he would take it on, he was the Thin White Duke, he was Ziggy Stardust, he played with that and that’s cool. That’s why when the Whigs made 1965 and I wore a hat or a fedora or cock feather or had a cane or I had a 12-piece band. When you get in that environment, you start to act like a different person and it’s kind of fun. You get to not be you for two hours and you’re entertaining people. I mean, I certainly wasn’t that when I put on my sweatpants and played checkers in the back of the bus. It’s escapism and it’s escapism for the audience and it’s escapism for yourself. That’s what I’ve always loved about music, that I could go be another guy for two hours. But ultimately it all comes back to: do you have the songs, can you sing them, do you have a great band that can play them with you? You’re charging money to have people come watch you play; I want them to feel taken someplace good or provoked into thinking my way for an hour and a half or two hours. I have been a provoker and I’ll probably always be one in the public arena for the rest of my life.

Pitchfork: Mark, do you feel like you’re playing the role of an entertainer when you’re writing songs or when you get on stage? Or do you feel like you’re just being you?

ML: I’m pretty much exactly the same way I am right now. Only a little less talkative.

[Laughter all around]

Pitchfork: One thing I noticed on the Gutter Twins record is that your voices sound really strong. I mean, both of you have been up there screaming your lungs out for years and years; how do you keep your voices in such good shape?

ML: Just lucky I guess. [laughs]

GD: I think that when we started to sing together, just casually at my house in L.A. eight years ago, singing other people’s songs– we both are fans of music and keen interpreters– when we sang together on my back porch, I remember thinking that we sang well together and it was very natural, the low end and the high end. And there are times on this record where I’m the low guy, he’s the high guy. Rarely, but it’s cool when it happens. That to me was why I knew this would be cool, because we didn’t have to try, we just did it and it sounded great and the battle was won right there. All we had to do was put forth the material to back it up.

When I heard that Massive Attack song [“Live With Me”, covered by the Twilight Singers with Lanegan on the 2006 EP A Stitch in Time] a couple years ago, I knew exactly what to do with it and I called him and told him, “I have one for us.” That sort of reignited the fact that we should probably finish the Gutter Twins record and get it out before Chinese Democracy came out.

Pitchfork: And you succeeded. This project had been in the works for something like five years, right?

GD: Since late 2003. The entire process was three years and nine months from start to finish, but that time is all accounted for. I think that when he toured with the Twilight Singers, I just asked him to do one gig and he ended up doing 100. At the end of that we were in Australia, and he had to go to Scotland to sing with Isobel [Campbell], and I asked him if he wanted to finish the record this year. He said yes and I said, “meet me in New Orleans in 30 days.” I picked him up 30 days later at the airport in New Orleans and we started working on it. We worked on it in March and then in May and June, we worked on things separately and then I went out to L.A. in July and stayed until it was done.

Pitchfork: I’m sensing a certain dynamic here, between you guys: Greg, you talk a lot, and Mark doesn’t talk a lot. Does it ever reverse itself?

GD: As soon as you leave it will. And I don’t talk a lot, I just fill up the uncomfortable spaces of him not talking. [laughs]

Pitchfork: Well, thank you! So one thing I wanted to talk about is the cover of Saturnalia, which I think is just gorgeous. It’s like something terrible is about to happen or something terrible just happened. What’s the story behind that image?

GD: I have a friend named Frank Relle who takes long exposure night shots of New Orleans. I was already familiar with some of his work, but he took a nighttime shot of [New Orleans jazz club] Vaughn’s for [jazz musician] Kermit Ruffins’ record cover [2007’s Live at Vaughn’s]. Kermit has been playing Thursday nights at Vaughn’s for 20 years. I really liked that shot. He showed me a couple shots after Katrina. I believe the one we used is from Solomon Street, down in the Ninth Ward. The two chairs got me and the empty space, the nakedness of the shot. Scott Ford, who plays bass in the group, tweaked it out for its apocalyptic drama.

Pitchfork: The sky looks amazing.

GD: Yeah, he did the sky. I’ve always been a fan of album covers with no writing on them and have used them a lot in my own groups.

Pitchfork: But then the label always puts a sticker on the cover with the band name on it.

GD: But you take it off. In the end it’s probably cost me sales because they don’t know who I am. But again, I like what I like, so I showed the picture to Mark and he just wrote back, “I love it,” and we had the cover.

Pitchfork: When you open the CD, the first thing you see is a photo of you guys laughing. I thought that made for a great counterpoint to the desolation of the cover. There’s a sense of joy there. Was that the intention?

ML: I just liked it because it reminded me of the Muddy Waters record Electric Mud. Inside, there’s a picture of him sitting in a barber’s chair getting his hair cut, just so random and weird. It was fitting somehow.

GD: Yeah, I mean, we’re friends. We don’t sit around and count the days until the apocalypse, it’s not like we’re Satan’s elves.

Pitchfork: What do you guys do together as friends, when you’re not making music?

GD: We went to a Bulls game last night. Shitty game. Usually we just hang out over lunch and we’ll watch sports together. But a lot of times we don’t live in the same town so we don’t hang out. We have, of course, lives outside of music. But whenever I’m in California I probably see him like once a week.

Pitchfork: You live in L.A. and New Orleans.

GD: Yeah.

Pitchfork: And you own a bar in L.A.?

GD: I own two bars in L.A., I own one bar in New Orleans.

Pitchfork: You’re a mogul!

GD: Uh, mogul, no. “Burgeoning entrepreneur” perhaps would be the phrase I would use. Bring on the passive income, that’s what I’m talking about.

Pitchfork: Mark, is music it for you? Do you do other stuff?

ML: You mean to make a living?

Pitchfork: Yes.

ML: No, I pretty much just play music.

GD: Counting stacks of money he makes from his lucrative…

ML: …musical career. [laughs]

Pitchfork: Mark, I want to talk about your collaboration with Isobel Campbell. You just announced this week that you two have a second album in the works. [Sunday at Devil Dirt is due out May 5 in the UK on V2/Cooperative Music.] When you two collaborate, she writes all of the music and then you come in and sing it. That’s an interesting dynamic, because you usually write the music that you sing. What drew you to that project?

ML: It’s just something different. I could see my place in it and it’s something outside the norm, which keeps music interesting for me.

Pitchfork: Are you going to tour with Isobel Campbell again?

ML: A little bit, yes.

Pitchfork: The title of the Gutter Twins album, Saturnalia, is the name of an ancient Roman festival during which slaves and masters trade places. Who is the master in the Gutter Twins? Who is the slave? Or are you both the master or the slave?

GD: I believe it was Depeche Mode who said, “we play a game called master and servant.” So it’s perhaps our homage to Depeche Mode, perhaps that’s the best way I can describe it. I think you can find yourself in life perhaps not really being the master of your own life and it is within your own will and tenacity whether you switch the roles or not. So I think it has more to do with that, a person’s individual will to be master or servant. I’ve been both in my own life and I prefer the former.

Pitchfork: The Gutter Twins have been covering the José González song “Down the Line” on this tour. What drew you to that particular song?

GD: Well, I love him. I really love that type of music where someone can take a guitar or light instrumentation and a beautiful voice and can send me somewhere. There are two artists currently who do that to me better than anyone. José González is one and Vetiver is the other. I can honestly say that I have all the Vetiver records, all the José González records, and I never skip any of their songs. I love all of their songs. And I really can’t say that about anybody else. I know Vetiver has a new album coming out and I cannot wait to hear it. I love them. I think that guy’s voice is beautiful; I think he writes perfect little songs. I hope he becomes rich and famous–at least rich. And José González, too. We were playing this festival a couple years ago in Norway and I was backstage and I heard this guy playing guitar. I just kind of peeked in, didn’t bother him, didn’t say anything. I looked at his name right on the little cabin, it said “José González”. I heard him play, he wasn’t singing or anything. Then I heard him sing and I went, “oh my goodness, beautiful voice.”

From that I went and started listening to him. His covers are fantastic. That Knife song– unbelievable. The Kylie Minogue song breaks my fucking heart. And the Massive Attack song that he did. So with his covers I felt like he was ripe to be covered. “Down the Line” was one that I felt like I could do. I was doing this acoustic show in Seattle back in October with Jeff Klein and Petra Haden. We did it in my living room and whipped it up and we had it. We ran through it one time and it was like oh, sweet.

Pitchfork: That version is up on the Twilight Singers’ MySpace page.

GD: Yeah, then he sent a message to my manager that he liked it, too. I would like to see him live one day. I would love to see Vetiver live one day too. The only bands that I’ve YouTubed are those two.

Pitchfork: Have you seen the “Down the Line” video?

GD: Yeah. With the pig? Pig man? It’s fantastic. I also like MGMT.

Pitchfork: Really? I think they’re terrible. Except for that one song, “Time to Pretend”.

GD: You don’t like “Electric Feel”? “Electric Feel” is killer, man. That song is the shit. I like them, I like Yeasayer. Who else do I like right now? I don’t know if I could find myself really listening to their records that much, but I found myself at a Brightblack Morning Light concert with these crazy kaleidoscope 3D glasses that they gave out at the show. I did smoke some reefer at that show and I totally dug it. Give MGMT another…I feel the backlash coming on those guys.

Pitchfork: I’ve been trying, man. Everybody loves ’em.

GD: They’re good-looking kids. I saw them on “David Letterman” and they wore Dracula capes and I was like, sweet. Drummer even in a Dracula cape, sweet. They seem tentative live.

Pitchfork: They’re terrible live.

GD: The heavy hand of Dave Fridmann is all over their record, you know. But they’ll figure it out. I think they’ll be very good and I think they’ll be very good for a while.

Pitchfork: Have you heard this new band called the Whigs?

GD: I have not heard them. I’ve heard of them and best of luck to them. My next band is going to be called the Stones. Or the Lips. I couldn’t be bothered to see them. But I’ll accidentally hear them one day, I’m sure– I hear they’re getting pretty popular.

Pitchfork: You also started a Twilight trend. There are a few Twilight bands out there now: the Twilight Sad, Twilight Sleep…

GD: Not only that, but it’s Twilight with an S! Using Twilight is fine but use another consonant to follow it!

Pitchfork: Nobody really seems to have followed the Screaming Trees’ example, though. I guess there are a few Trees bands: Taken by Trees, the Dead Trees…

ML: Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies. That’s the only one I can think of. Screaming for Vengeance, the Judas Priest tribute band. [laughs]

Pitchfork: You guys were both at one point in MGMT or Yeasayer’s spot, the buzzed-about hot new thing. What would you say to these dudes? Obviously it’s a very different landscape now than when you were starting out.

GD: Get everything up front. Get all the money up front. Unless you know something that I don’t know, always take it up front. Don’t wait for it, it never comes.

Pitchfork: Mark?

GD: Mark, what would you tell the young kids starting out in music today? [laughs]

[Lanegan rolls eyes]

Pitchfork: Good advice! Mark, what artists are you excited about right now?

ML: Delroy Wilson.

GD: A 70s reggae artist.

ML: Johnny Clarke, another 70s reggae artist. And I was listening to a lot of Lightning Bolt the other day.

GD: The other day? You’ve been listening to Lightning Bolt for a couple of weeks, man.

ML: In between Delroy Wilson.

Pitchfork: That’s a nice contrast– one is very chill, and one is not chill at all.

ML: But Lightning Bolt is chill. They totally chill me out for some reason.

GD: I listened to Lightning Bolt and it made me feel like I needed to lay down. I liked them but it was very aggressive. I liked it, don’t get me wrong– it reminded me of Squirrel Bait a little bit, some of the drumming. But I was riding on the train with him in Belgium while he was listening to Lightning Bolt at full fucking blast and he seemed to be in a transcendental, peaceful state. So what works for people, I don’t know. Have you heard Cully [Symington]’s band 1986?

ML: I have not.

GD: They’re a two-man outfit, too. The guy kind of sounds like J Mascis a little bit, but they’re pushing way harder that Dinosaur. The absence of a bass player always makes things go faster and hit harder in the high-end range. Check it out. Cully’s our drummer, Cully’s 23 and he’s a badass.

Pitchfork: I suspect you have to be to play with you guys.

GD: Full-blown badass and he’s got this band called 1986 that are, I think, really, really great.

Pitchfork: Mark, would you ever want to make a reggae record or a brutal noise record?

ML: Maybe a brutal noise reggae record.

GD: Maybe you could get Dr. Know to produce it. That would be the guy.

Pitchfork: Speaking of Bad Brains and Dinosaur Jr., with all of these reunions going on lately, did either of you guys ever want to jump on the reunion train with your old bands? The Afghan Whigs recorded a couple new songs for last year’s Unbreakable retrospective and there were rumors of some live shows.

GD: Anything lower than mid-six figures is not going to get me interested in that. And honestly, I just don’t want to. It’s nothing against those bands that have gotten together because for whatever reason they’ve gotten together it’s working for them. I’m guessing that a lot of that is a financial thing, far be it from me to judge anyone. I’ll say this, I saw Dinosaur in New Orleans in December and they were awesome. They were actually really good and the new songs that I heard sounded good. So if we re playing festivals this summer and My Bloody Valentine is on one of those bills, I will go watch them play.

Pitchfork: I’m kind of afraid of the My Bloody Valentine reunion. It might be great, but…

GD: You run the risk of falling on your face, but, again, music is an individual pursuit– it is made to please yourself first. The pleasure of other people is a byproduct of the pleasure that comes from yourself so again I cannot judge or look down on someone who does whatever they feel like doing. Conversely, for me the past is the past and I would hate to dilute the great times I had in the Afghan Whigs by dragging it back out and beating its corpse. I just don’t know if I could do that.

Pitchfork: Mark, do you share those feelings?

ML: I share those feelings and I have a great many more of those feelings. [laughs] I prefer to stay in the here and now and move forward. There’s a reason why it’s not part of my life anymore nor can I ever see it being a part of my life again.

GD: I look at it this way: if he or I were having to rehearse for a reunion tour, you don’t have time to write new songs that mean something to you now. We’ve made careers after our groups that people come to. There are people that I’ve met that didn’t know who the Afghan Whigs were when they came to a Twilight Singers show and that’s great. I loved being in the Afghan Whigs, Rick [McCollum] and John [Curley] are still two of my best friends ever, and when we did the songs that we did for the retrospective it was fun with the understanding that that was it. We were doing someone at Rhino– a mutual friend of all of ours– a favor by doing that. It was fun, it was so much fun, but then it became not fun and that’s when you know. It’s like, you don’t go shacking up with your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend. It ends in tears.

Pitchfork: When Unbreakable came out, there was talk of the Afghan Whigs doing a video for one of the new songs.

GD: Lies, lies, lies.

Pitchfork: I specifically remember an interview you did with Billboard that mentioned a video for “I’m a Soldier”.

GD: I lie all the time. [laughs] That is my right as a liar.

Pitchfork: Are you guys going to make any Gutter Twins videos?

GD: We made one for “All Misery/Flowers” down in New Orleans and that one’s done now, but it’s the one for “Idle Hands” that I cannot wait to see. That’s all I’m going to say. I cannot wait to see it. We are not in it but I cannot wait to watch it.

Pitchfork: Greg, one thing I wanted to ask about was how the Twilight Singers were one of the first people to cover Outkast’s “Hey Ya”, and then you were one of the first people to cover Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”…

GD: …and we would’ve covered [Rihanna’s] “Umbrella”!

Pitchfork: That was my question!

ML: Why did you not?

GD: Because we weren’t touring. But the first time I heard that song I went, “oh shit.” Loved it, loved it. I would’ve done it in a fucking heartbeat. And I would’ve done it before everyone else like I did the other ones. I did it in my house. I had a version of it that I played for myself.

Pitchfork: Every cover of “Umbrella” that I’ve heard has sucked.

GD: Yeah, when people do them just like they were already done: boring. Actually, more than “Hey Ya”, I loved the cover that we did of “Roses”, the Outkast song.

Pitchfork: I don’t think I’ve heard that, actually. Was it live only or did you record it?

GD: Yeah, it’s live, but there’s a bootleg of it somewhere. It’s on piano, it’s a very gospel-sounding song. [TV on the Radio’s] “Wolf Like Me” was good too, I thought.

Pitchfork: What is it about a song that makes you want to cover it?

GD: I just hear it. It’s gotta be great, it’s got to make my hair stand up and I have to wish that I wrote it and then I wish it so much that I do write it again for me. And it’s always for me. It’s for my own entertainment. Again, if someone else likes them, great, but you are indulging me watching me do that.

Pitchfork: Your songs have been covered by Dashboard Confessional, the New Amsterdams…

GD: Haven’t heard it.

Pitchfork: Emo guys seem to like you. Why do you think that is?

GD: I don’t know. He was asking me that the other day. I don’t know.

ML: There’s nothing wrong with it, it just seems a little weird.

GD: Perhaps it’s because I’m the Godfather of Emo. [laughs] It’s weird, emo, which is short for emotional– of course music should be emotional. It’s like soul music, isn’t it all soul music? Otherwise what is it, non-soul music? I-have-no-soul music? Soulless music? People need to put a name on something to identify it, and I understand it, but I have not heard either one of those covers.

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