Prefix Mag (Part 2)
Greg Dulli: Part Two
St. Gregory returns as the ‘Belle’ of the ball
Interview by: Michelle Detwiler
Here is the second part of the interview with Greg Dulli…
Prefix Magazine: I know that it’s been written …
Greg Dulli: Part 2: Then it must be true …
PM: … that the Twilight Singers have just evolved into this rotating group. I read somewhere that you compared the band or your concept of the band to the Golden Palominos.
G: Absolutely, I did say that and that was true.
PM: But I have to wonder, Did anything happen with Shawn Smith and Hap [Harold] Chichester, or were they just not a part of this particular project?
G: I haven’t talked to Shawn Smith in five years and Harold … . They live in different states, and this all sort of goes back to why the Afghan Whigs became no more. When people grow up and move around and stuff, I’m gonna do music with whoever’s in the town I’m in. It’s nothing personal against Shawn or Harold; they’re both incredible talents. They don’t live here and they don’t live in New Orleans, so if you don’t live here or in New Orleans, I’m probably not going to be able to play music with ya.
I have a bar in L.A. — The Short Stop. It’s the greatest bar — ever.
PM: I’m sure it is. Do you actually have homes in L.A. and New Orleans?
G:I own a house in L.A. and I stay at [producer] Mike Napolitano’s house in New Orleans, but as long as Mike’s around, I have a place to stay.
PM: “Martin Eden,” that song —
G: The final three pages of the book [by Jack London] …
PM: A lot of people don’t write songs about books …
G: I didn’t write that about that book. After my friend died, I was pretty, pretty sad and I think I’ll always be sad. But there was one time in particular after it when I couldn’t get out of where I was. So, my friend Dave, who owns a company called Birdman Records [the label on which Blackberry Belle was released] — and he’s one of my best friends ever — Dave was an English grad stud at Berkley. He knows more about books than anybody. He thought it would be a good time for me to read it [Martin Eden] because of what I was going through. And I had read Jack London when I was a kid, but this was a very adult book with adult situations.
It blew me away, in particular the description of Martin Eden’s suicide — it was the most exquisitely beautiful and poetic description of sorrow that I had ever read and it sort of lifted me in a way. I found it very — he wasn’t looking for my sympathy, he wasn’t looking for anybody’s — unapologetic is a great quality in anybody, unless you’re going to kill a bunch of people. That book kind of lifted me [and] I felt that I had to repay an unspoken debt to Jack London and I used a lot of imagery that he used, especially the last three pages – the water, he fell down the steps and he sees the light. There was no other, nothing else I could call a song about Martin Eden.
PM: That’s a perfect example of people’s different interpretations —
G:No, no it was based on — no matter how dark things get for me, I’m so overly fond of myself I couldn’t imagine depriving myself of myself. [Laughs.]
PM: At least you’re honest about it.
G: Oh, god I’m the worst. I give self-love a bad name. Or a good name. If I don’t love me, who will?
PM: Hey, you have plenty of people who love you.
G:Oh, well, hey, first and foremost me. I’m the president of my own fan club. I fall in love with myself every time I brush my teeth or shave. “You lucky bastard, you get to be you … ”
PM: Do you know that you have this obsessive legion of fans? Does it freak you out?
G: It only freaks me out when people show up on my porch. I don’t like when they do that.
PM: People don’t do that, do they?
G: They do, yeah. It’s happened more times than I’d like it to.
PM: That’s really bold.
G:Believe me, people, everybody wants to be liked, but you have to … there are boundaries and respect. I mean, if I’m eating and got a mouthful of food, it’s not the right time to ask me for an autograph. Playing shows — it’s why you play shows. It’s a communion between you and the people who want to hear you. I mean, I’m a music fan too. There are people I love and go buy their records, but I don’t show up at their house — unless they invite me.
You can imagine why superstars have bodyguards and stuff. I mean, it’s not that bad for me, I mean, I’ll just mace the motherfucker. But if Mick Jagger or something like that … I can’t imagine that. The cult of personality is a strange thing. I’m a fan of people and I most likely am because they probably provide some kind of vicarious catharsis for me. I mean, if a songwriter puts something into words or feels something that I’ve felt, then I’m most likely going to be a fan of that. I speak for myself first, but it’s a beautiful feeling to have in your body.
PM: That was deep. If you had that sort of mentality, who would you want to stalk. Who’s door would you want to show up?
G: You know what, at the risk of sounding beyond arrogant, I’m doing just fine with who I am.
PM: OK. What were the last musical purchases you made? There’s so much weirdness going on in the music world …
G: Not really.
PM: Ah, I disagree.
G: Ray Charles said it years ago: There are two kinds of music …
PM: But don’t you think there’s an overabundance of bad?
G:Well, there’s an overabundance of bad because we’re in the out-of-control Information Age. I mean, when I was a kid, there wasn’t cable TV, computers were stuff they had on The Jetsons. I mean, there’s just people … their need for stuff is out of control. [But] I’ve heard more good music in the last couple years than I did in the early ’90s. I was never a really big grunge fanatic.
But the last three musical purchases I made … newest? My favorite recording this year is by this woman named Martina Topley-Bird. Her record is called Quixotic — she was the singer on the first Tricky record. Her record is one of those things where I’m like, “Holy shit, man, I’ve never heard this before.” I’ve never heard anyone do what she’s doing, and it’s mind blowing. It makes you proud to be a musician. Outkast’s Dre [referring to Andre 3000’s portion of Speakerboxx/Tha Love Below] — it’s fuckin’ amazing. He’s downloading from another universe. I love this hip-hop group from Minneapolis called Atmosphere. Their record’s called Seven’s Travels. I saw them live a couple weeks ago. It was the best hip-hop show I’ve ever seen. It was amazing. I was jumping up and down like a little kid.
I really love that Radiohead record. I think it’s their second best one. I love it, love it, love it. I really think they’re the best rock band working right now, and some people disagree. Whatever.
I love the White Stripes. I think that kid is immensely talented. He’s obviously the next Kurt Cobain. I hope he sticks around longer than homeboy did. Obviously, Renee Zelwegger’s an upgrade from Courtney Love. She’s a walking, talking, fucking nightmare! Instead of Freddy versus Jason, it needs to be Freddy versus Courtney. Awesome. I would love to be Freddy Krueger, ’cause he can disappear and sneak up behind somebody and tear out their kidneys. I love Freddy Krueger.
PM: The tour — are you looking forward to it?
G:I am looking forward to the performing part of it. I have always said I would do the show for free; you’re paying me for the twenty-two hours of fucking around I have to do before it.
I’ve waited a good, long time. I was really, really disliking it. I had to quit. So if you come see us, you’ll see a happy version of me.
PM: Are you looking forward to exposing some of these thoughts and emotions? Are you apprehensive at all?
G:You know what? If I would have been like that I would never play a show in my whole life. Through the years, I’ve said some pretty weird stuff.
PM: Back in the Whigs days, you guys were known for some really good covers. This tour I’ve read you’ve done Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting” …
G: I notoriously like to sing songs that girls sang first, so if you look at the covers through the years, they’ve been heavy on the chicks. I love Kate Bush.
PM: I’m really surprised to hear that.
G: Never be surprised by me, child.
PM: How do you choose them?
G: I’m a slave to my whims.