Rusty Interviews Carrie / Carrie Interviews Rusty

In an act of sweet sweet interview love, Rusty and Carrie -- the leaders of The Strawberry Explosion -- interview each other. Just ignore the fact that they refer to each other in the third person. Read Carrie's interview with Rusty, or go on to Rusty's interview with Carrie.

Tell me about the piano in your parents’ house.

It’s not as important as you might think. I taught myself how to play on a Casiotone MT-18 keyboard. The piano was sort of passed from house to house depending on who was taking piano lessons. Before us, it was at my Aunt Gwen’s when her son was taking lessons. When I took lessons, we got it.

The lessons weren’t as important as you might think, either. I took them for like half a year. They were sort of boring and I didn’t learn anything I didn’t know already. It would be like if someone took typing after teaching themselves, since we just did rudimentary stuff.

But the piano. It’s nice enough. It’s an upright. It’s fairly in tune. A few keys stick or don’t play. The most annoying thing about it is that the keys make a clicking noise, all of them. I suppose if it did anything, it helped me to learn more about soft and loud dynamics and how to play more "pretty" and the beauty of a sustain pedal.

When you choose cover songs, what are you looking for?

They are usually things that I can’t help but do, like I just need to. To my knowledge, I’m not looking for anything in particular. Sometimes when I do live shows, I’ll purposefully do current pop hits, just so people will be sure to know the songs, but most of the things I do for albums feel rather random.

I don’t ever do anything that I don’t think I can add anything to. I would never do "What a Wonderful World," and no one else should either, because Louie B. Armstrong managed to do a version that makes everyone’s else’s attempt look ridiculous. That doesn’t mean that all of my covers are "better," just that they’re different and they add something new. There’s no way to add anything to "What a Wonderful World." Seriously.

I did a "cover" of The Magnetic Fields’ three disc 69 Love Songs, you know. That seemed to make sense to me to do that.

You are not a hipster, and yet your music is fascinated by them. See, for example, "Nothing Like Me." How do you explain this fascination?

Fascinated might be a strong word. I used to be actually fascinated and somewhat in love with the idea of Generation X as represented in Richard Linklater movies and other things like that, but the current "hipsters" are kind of repulsive for the most part. Maybe that’s me being old, but Generation X (such as they/we were) didn’t really ask for the title, whereas hipsters are sort of calculated and dull. They have all sorts of rules. I think if I’m fascinated by anything, it’s all these rules—it’s sort of a surprise at how many things you can and can’t do to be a hipster.

I think "Nothing Like Me" is the only time I’ve sung about hipsters. I’ve sung about Gen Xers plenty of times.

When will you do another Christmas album? Which of your incarnations will release it, and how will it be different from the one done by Rusty Spell?

I’ve had the idea for a while to do A Christmas Gift To You from Rusty Spell or A Christmas Gift To You from Love and Letters Music, where it would be every act from Love and Letters doing a few Christmas songs—a take on A Christmas Gift To You from Phil Spector that he did with all his artists. So it would be a various artists compilation. I thought about doing that for all of ‘nikcuS Productions as well, but that would be more involved and less Spectory.

I also thought about doing a Mnemonic Devices EP of Christmas music. An entire album would be too much. I’d probably end up using the versions I recorded for that Radiant Radish Christmas collection along with some other things. Of course, Synthetic Fibers has been wanting to do a Christmas record for years and years, of primarily traditional songs—all instrumental, as usual.

But I probably will make another Rusty Spell Christmas album someday. I don’t know what it will sound like. I don’t have any ideas yet other than I’d like to do another one. The last one was from an entirely different generation of my music, back in the tape deck days, the last of its kind.

What is your attitude toward collaboration?

I got away from it for a while because no one is as fast as me, I’m a jerk, etc. But I like it still. I totally wish ‘nikcuS could exist again. Doing Robert Brenton with Tommy Burton was fun, obviously, or we wouldn’t have ended up with three discs’ worth of material. I like it when it’s laid-back like that, or when I can kind of sit in the background. I’m still waiting to just be someone’s drummer and do nothing but drum.

Which of these, for you, has most in common with your song-making: making videos, making web pages, making stories, or making drawings? Why?

I’ll discuss what they have in common, then I’ll decide. Making videos is similar because it has a similar fun "slop." All sorts of loose stuff involving tape and digital being thrown around and editing into some presentable thing. Making web pages is only in service to the music, though it sometimes feels the other way around. My stories and music have a lot in common, especially my Mnemonic Devices songs. They used to anyway. They both had characters, and the characters were similar, and the stories contained a certain "music." I used to rip off stories for lyrics and lyrics for stories. "Teddy Ruxpin" was a song written by a fictional character. My drawings have a little to do with the music, since lots of my songs are essentially cartoons. I draw all the Mnemonic Devicettes as cartoon on my web page. Most ‘nikcuS characters are cartoons.

So, um, stories? Other people have explained the connection between my stories and songs better than I have.

Tell me about your requirements for Mnemonic Devices songs.

I can only use the keyboard as an instrument, with occasional samples. And I have to use MIDI. I can’t just, like, record the keyboard straight. The only male singer will ever be me. The rest will be females. The songs can be any length (though I doubt they’d go over seven minutes), but the albums can’t go over 45 minutes. Unlike ‘nikcuS and other stuff, the lyrics are never about me or my friends. In the song "Jenny," her boyfriend just happened to be called Rusty, but it wasn’t me. Jenny and Rusty are good names for characters. If my name were Dave or Chris, it wouldn’t have been as noticeable. The songs tend to be about relationships, though they don’t have to be. There are probably more rules that I’m not aware of. I suppose there would have to be, since TMD songs seem so different from the other stuff I do.

Your idea of the Devicettes as "your bitches" recently ended up in the Frederick Barthelme novel, Elroy Nights. How do you feel about that?

I liked it. I was happy to have been a part of Edward Works (the character who called his girls "bitches") for like two or three sentences. I’m reclaiming words like "girl" as positive words, even though I’m not one. But, yeah, Rick Barthelme has been ripping me off since the early 80s. He so wants to be me.

Why do you have an aesthetic of untrained voices?

If I do… Often it’s necessity, since more people are untrained than trained, especially my friends. However, I tend to like interesting voices better than "good" ones. I’m not really sure what "good" is, though I can recognize what other people call good. American Idol and that crap. That’s good?

There are a few people I’ve recorded that are decidedly good, however. Good and sometimes trained. I often prefer that. It depends on the song, too. If there’s a hard-to-sing song, or if it requires a certain amount of prettiness, I’ll save it for someone I know can sing it properly. Sometimes notes all over the place or whatever can be distracting, and sometimes it can be charming. It depends on what the song needs.

I myself am untrained and getting better as the years go on. That’s what folks tell me anyway, and what it seems like to me. I’ve said before that I like my voice simply because it’s versatile. Versatility – more than trained or untrained – is what I prefer in a vocalist. Someone who can sing in any way whatsoever.

Why is I Can Make These Songs Now My Folks Are Dead your most underrated Rusty Spell album?

I actually believe it’s because there’s an eight minute song right in the middle of the thing called "Mommy and Daddy." It’s really long and the lyrics are hard to listen to because of content. I don’t like to listen to it either. When you think of the album, you immediately think of that song more than anything else, probably, so no one wants to hear it.

Some of the other songs are tough in that way too. Rusty Spell albums were never funny like ‘nikcuS, but they were light enough. My Folks Are Dead is a piece of fiction, but there’s this thing of listening to a Rusty Spell album and thinking, "This is Rusty Spell. This is what he thinks." Which of course isn’t true, but it seems like it, so no one much likes listening to me singing about couples thinking about having sex with their mom and dad while having sex with each other. I mean, as usual, the album is somewhat of a parody, in this case of Will Oldham. He did that song about sleeping with his sister and other creepy stuff. That’s his thing, or part of it. I didn’t feel like I reached anywhere close to a Will Oldham level, but it was close enough to put people ill at ease.

I imagine most people who listen to it listen to the album once and then say, "Okay, that’s enough." But if it is my most underrated album, it’s because the album is actually really good and probably the prettiest thing I ever made. I actually sound like I know how to play the guitar on this album. The instrumental ending of "Billy" doesn’t sound like something I could actually even perform, but I did.

Perhaps even more than indie rock credibility, there was something odd going on that night that I recorded it—that hour and a half when I adlibbed and recorded those fifteen songs. I couldn’t have done them at any other time, not even the day before or the day after. That sounds all artificial inspiration or whatever, but it’s true in this case.

Which Mnemonic Devices album cover is your favorite?

Sparkling Objective Correlatives, naturally. Though The Singles Collection and Midi Skirt are great too.

What is the key to a good ad-lib?

There’s a certain focus you have to have, but also a certain looseness. If you’re too loose, you end up just saying "baby, baby, baby" over and over and making a piece of suck. But if you’re too focused, you stay so much on point that it ends up sounding like some song you might as well have written out. Also, follow whatever the music is suggesting, whether you’re playing the music or someone else is.

You know, though, I’m really not sure. It’s more natural for me to adlib than to write, pretty much, since that’s how I started. It’s easy enough.

Is it fair to edit an ad-lib?

Yeah, that’s what ‘nikcuS’s Produced was. We adlibbed the lyrics and music, then put stuff on top. Usually you’re just putting stuff on top. The only thing we edited out was some laughing we did in the middle of a song. Pretty much, though, you’re stuck with what you sung and played.

Why do you have such long intros?

I’m told I do by one or two people, but I don’t think they’re incredibly long. I like epic feels in songs sometimes. I like music that can be interesting without lyrics, and intros are the perfect place to make it like that.

Explain your "live show voice" vs. your "recording voice" and why are they so different?

It’s something I need to "correct." When I record, I sing in a variety of ways, depending on what the song needs. A deep voice or quiet voice or goofy voice or whatever. But when I sing live, I get this rather noteless, loud voice. It’s because I feel like I’m basically yelling over the crowd, even if they’re quiet (they usually are quiet and attentive actually). My guitar playing, or whatever I’m playing, is the equivalent—crazy wild artless strumming. My performances aren’t about music at all, it seems sometimes. Not about singing or playing. It’s about something else, some sort of stand up act or storytelling or something. It’s almost like good playing and singing would get in the way of people listening to what’s actually going on.

But I’ll work on it next time I play. I don’t play live that much, you know, so it’s not like I have a lot of reason to dwell on it and improve. I’ll calm down and sing right and play well. Maybe.

Tell me about recording and working with Carrie Hoffman, your partner in The Strawberry Explosion and a Devicette. Is she demanding?

When we do The Mnemonic Devices, she’s not demanding at all, cause she’s knows that’s my thing. She does more takes than probably any of the others. With The Strawberry Explosion, the input is ideally 50/50. But of course I’m having to perform all the stuff, so it’s a matter of her explaining to me what she wants combined with what I want and what I’ve done. So far it’s worked about like this: She gives me a vague idea of what she’s thinking of or we come up with it together, I work out a melody and stuff, we sing it, I add all the extra hoopla to the basic track, she tells me what’s wrong with it and how to make it better, then I make it better. It takes a while to understand what she’s asking sometimes, but when I do – and when I eventually do the thing – I always admit that it sounds better.

She’s not any more "demanding" than anyone else I’ve worked with. It’s just that usually I work with people who can play instruments, so they can just show me what they want, or do it themselves.

How do you deal with Devicettes who don’t know anything about music or musical terms?

It just takes a little longer, cause you have to figure out little "tricks" to get them to do what needs to be done. There’s not that language available. I can’t just say something simple like "sing on the upbeat" or "just sing quarter notes" or I can’t write out sheet music (something I’ve only done once, I think). So I end up pointing at them at certain times when they’re supposed to come in. With everyone, I use a guide track of me singing that I erase later. Some people follow that closely, and others vary from it, which I encourage to a certain degree (mostly with notes—I’m sort of stubborn about the rhythms I’ve written).

With Carrie for The Strawberry Explosion, it’s more than just recording vocals, so there are even more tricks and language problems to get around. Like Carrie kept referring to a part of the song being "faster" at the end than it was at the beginning, even though it kept the same tempo throughout. What she meant was "busier," more notes; and staccato instead of legato.

So it ends up being like I’m a composer for a movie and she’s a movie director who doesn’t necessarily know about music, yet they have to communicate with each other about what they want. You just have to use a different language and figure out what the person actually means.

The closet?

I’ve recorded almost all Mnemonic Devices recordings in a closet. For various reasons. Mainly it blocks out the outside sound, but also the clothes inside trap the noise pretty well so everything’s kind of condensed already when it goes into the microphone. Then I think it allows them to be more "free" cause I’m not just looking at them. They’re in their own world.

We talk to each other through microphones and headphones, so we can speak freely, and they (and I) tend to like that kind of thing. It’s like talking right into their ears in loud stereo when someone’s only two feet away but can’t see you. Well, it’s not like that—it is that.

It’s a pain when I record myself in the closet, though, cause if I mess up, I have to get out and bustle around back and forth from the computer. Luckily, I’m a one or two takes kinda guy.

Which band do you consider your music closer to in vision and aesthetics: the Shaggs or OutKast.

I think that I’m like the dad of The Shaggs, the one who recorded his girls, more than like the band themselves. Because he really thought his girls were good, even though they weren’t considered good by almost anyone, and he was anxious to record them – as he said – "while they were hot." And that’s how I feel about a lot of people I record… especially people who have never sung before. They sound so cute. When they get better and more comfortable singing, it’s nice too in a different way, but there’s something special about getting their early stuff. Then, of course, I’m really like Daddy Shaggy when I do stuff like record The Ka-9’s or The Wite Trazsh Bratts.

But as far as what I myself do, I’d go with OutKast. They’re similar to me in that they aren’t a comedy act or a novelty act, but there’s almost always something funny about what they do. Funny and fun. And they have great, outlandish ideas that work, and so do I. And sexiness.

In one sentence, explain why there is no such thing as a sell-out.

Because the word itself has no meaning, other than standing in for more correct words such as adapting or changing or better presenting ones self or compromising or becoming popular.

What do the lyrics mean in "Hosanna," from your Rusty Spell album, Loud Cymbals?

"Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." Hosanna is an odd word that originally, in Hebrew (hoshiya na), meant "save me," but then it came to mean "I’m saved"—presumably because the Lord saves you quickly, so you’re getting saved as quickly as you’re asked to be saved. It’s one of those words that can be used all kinds of crazy ways in a sentence, like "Hosanna in the highest," which is asking those up "high" (Heaven) to praise the Lord for saving.

At any rate, it’s a word of praise, a sort of happy one in the end, rapturously happy. The Polyphonic Spree will be using it any day now if they venture into non-Pagan religions.

Tell me about "And I Shudder" from Plagiarism.

I don’t want to give anything away to those who want to play the Plagiarism Game, but "And I Shudder" was written to sound like the band Lambchop. I wrote the lyrics to this song out first. They just came out. I just got into a Lambchop mode is all. I wanted to say words like un-im-port-tant, to do the Kurt Wagner articulate voice. And to sing about sagging members and breasts dry as dust, which seems like something they’d sing about (though maybe mine is more extreme—I’d have to research and compare).

I don’t know where the idea came from to compare animal intuition and human… what? Clueless-ness? How we really don’t ever have a clue what’s going on. Like we’ve lost some vital connection with the universe that every other living thing seems to naturally have. That’s why they always have dogs in movies seeing ghosts or whatever: those ideas come from reality.

Why do you assign fonts to your bands?

I like the artificially-imposed unity. You’ll always be able to pick out a Cake album in one glance. You’ll always be able to know when The White Stripes are anywhere near (I might not dig them too much, but I dig their consistency with color). Most good acts have some sort of uniformity, even if its uniformly scattered.

So ‘nikcuS is often Comic Sans (or my handwritten version of it). The Mnemonic Devices is always Copperplate Gothic 33bc, which I stole from the early Magnetic Fields (before they went all Courier on us, a path I will not follow). The Immaculate Conceptions is VAG Rounded Light. The Strawberry Explosion is Goudy Heavyface, like a lot of 60s bands… until Carrie gets tired of it and we have a big fight about it.

Those are the main ones that have regular fonts. Rusty Spell purposefully does not stick with one font, since it speaks to the ever-changing music.

What song do you think should be your biggest hit, from any of your incarnations?

I always thought "Should I Talk Slower?" by The Mnemonic Devices could be a big hit.

Which is a better instrument: the egg shaker or the maraca? Why?

The egg shaker, because it makes almost any song sound better. The maracas are usually just noisy.

You recently recorded the second single by your newest group, The Strawberry Explosion. Where do you see them by the twelfth single?

About the same place. Maybe a little less "sloppy." There’s a certain level of slop to my performance on these first two. I suppose the songs will mellow out a little for at least one or two, so we don’t get a sugar rush. Though maybe twelve sugar babies in a row would work great.

When will Yo Mahma! record again?

Whenever Nob.yie wants to. RusLe would do it anytime. All they have to do is turn on the tape recorder.

Now that Lori Rooney, formerly Lori Berkemeyer, is back in the United States, do you expect to record with her? If so, how do you think she will change you musically?

She recorded with me for 100,000 Fireflies, the precursor to The Mnemonic Devices, back in 1996. We did the original version of 20th Century Literary Problem. Through some misunderstanding, we thought we were mad at each other, but we actually weren’t—but it made the album go away and the new one appear in its place, like some weird Star Wars Special Edition.

I’ve thought about recording the album once again with Lori, which would make three versions exist, and I hate that kind of mess, but then I figured the plan could be to consider the 100,000 Fireflies version a "demo," which it was, just like I Don’t Remember has a demo version of just me singing the songs. And then I could just re-record Lori singing 20th Century Literary Problem and use the Debi versions (there are only three with her on it) as "rarities" on an upcoming Stick It Somewhere collection or whatever. Sounds like a plan, if she’d go for it. That first album was a Lori album anyway—she wrote the lyrics to one of the songs: "Great Blue Divide" was changed to "I Love My Feet" for the new version. TMD needs more convoluted history anyway.

But, yeah, she’s back in the USA from Slovakia. Unfortunately, she’s still in another time zone; but fortunately, she seems keen on travelling around a lot, so maybe she’ll swing by here and we could do something. I really want to, even if it’s not The Mnemonic Devices. As far as her changing me musically, I don’t see that she would. Unless she has some specific ideas of things she would want to do, in which case that would shake up my stuff in good ways.

Tell me about the day you learned of the fate of the members of Kool-Aid MC with a Lemonade Spritzer. How are you doing? How did it affect you musically? Do you think Shug Knight was involved? Tell me about the rumors that DJ Rus is a suspect, due to arguments over Frodo. Will anyone be to KAMCWALS as Missy Elliott is to Aaliyah?

The day it happened, I had this sort of sinking feeling in my stomach all day. Eventually, I thought I’d check my email and see if anything had happened, because it felt like it had. Sure enough, DJ Rus wrote me and told me they died "in a gang-related incident," which never made any sense to either of us. Anyway, we were in the middle of DJ Rus’s first album, with me producing, and he decided he wanted to do something for them, so I strummed the electric guitar and he freestyled the rap.

The stupid rumor about DJ Rus being involved came about because some random punk kids on some online discussion board had said something like, "Yeah, I’m sure it didn’t hurt DJ Rus’s sales either," and then it turned into "Maybe he killed him," which is completely ridiculous and rude, considering what he especially was going through.

I’m not sure if you’re talking about the same thing as I’m thinking when you say "arguments over Frodo." Kool-Aid MC would sometimes write "Frodo was here" as part of the graffiti they would do in certain parts of Jackson, and DJ Rus eventually wrote "Peace Out to the Gollum" as a direct result, since he found out who Frodo was and got into The Lord of the Rings. But I don’t know of any fights they had concerning it. I also don’t think Shug Knight was involved. I’ve never met Shug Knight and neither has KMC or DNS as far as I know.

DJ Rus and DNS too (that includes MC Noby Dick) are of course the Missy Elliot to their Aaliyah. DNS, unlike me, adored KMC throughout the years. DNS thought they owed everything to those guys. I also have to admit that I didn’t like DNS for a long time either and didn’t allow their album to be released until DJ Rus sort of forced it upon me in 1997, two years after they’d done most of it. They called me (and Noby Nobriga) "The Man" on that whole record, which pissed me off for a while, but then I got over it, then DJ Rus and I became friends, and now we’re making records. We still fight a lot, but I think he’s great and talented.

But yes, I’m fine. I didn’t know them too well, in the end. It didn’t affect me much, other than working with DJ Rus. DJ Rus is fine too, but still has moments from time to time.

Why is DJ Rus too lazy to write?

He’s just better at freestyling, I think. The only thing he wrote out on the album was "Peace Out to the Gollum," because he said he needed to make sure he got it all, since there was a lot to cover. He thinks he still didn’t cover all he wanted to, but I was happy with it, and he was in the end.

Writing out raps is rather hard. I’ve only rapped a little for ‘nikcuS and stuff, and you know I wrote the lyrics to "Trance Groove ’95." It was hard enough to do, even though it was slow. Imagine having to actually type out all that rapping on something like "December 2-5." Rap is all about flow, and it’s hard to flow when you type so much slower than you can talk. But, yeah, he calls it laziness, which it sort of is, since the time he put into the Lord of the Rings song was worth it.

Tell me about "rubber-banded ceilings" from the lyrics of "Born for Me" on the Rusty Spell Plagiarism album. What does that mean? And do you believe that someone can actually be "born for" someone else?

In the school cafeterias in elementary or junior high or something, the ceilings looked like they were made of rubber bands. I don’t know if it means anything specific in the song. Again, since this was on Plagiarism, "Born for Me" was written in the style of Neutral Milk Hotel, which uses a certain type of imagery that can’t really be explained too clearly. I know in my heart what every single line means, but I don’t know if I can really explain it, or if I want to. I feel pretty much that way about Neutral Milk Hotel songs, too.

I don’t know if someone can be born for someone else. Life sometimes seems very random and sometimes it doesn’t. I think perhaps a higher power will probably not have someone "born for" someone else, since the act of being born really is pretty random (and probably even beyond the control of that higher power), but I think a higher power might "match up" someone with someone else once the person is born.

It’s like if you yourself see two things – like maybe pants and a shirt – that go nicely together. They may not have been created with the purpose of being put together, but eventually it was decided by you that they should be, and then they are. So it’s as if they were actually created to be together.

Then again, maybe God sits in Heaven with a baby cauldron and says, "Do I have the perfect girl for you!" I am always perfectly willing to change my mind about anything like this.

The Ka-9’s are no longer kids. Will they ever record again?

The Ka-9’s were fifteen when they did their first recording, which is how old ‘nikcuS was. I didn’t consider Noby, Kevin, and myself kids, and I still don’t. I considered Teynaum and Nick kids. They sounded like kids. We didn’t. These are just facts. Anyway, just pointing out that I’m not sure how much the "kid-ness" of the album has to do with them or if they will record again. I think they probably won’t, at least not together or as The Ka-9’s, but I’d like to do something with Teynaum at least someday. She can actually play the guitar now, I hear.

Will the Robert Brenton albums always be so massive?

We’re not sure. Tommy and I get together so little that it was just easy to record all that stuff at once, and then we didn’t want to discard any of it. Either way would be funny and perfect and cool: to record another massive record or to record a tiny record.

You consider yourself a drummer and yet you don’t have your own drumset. Why?

I usually live in an apartment, which isn’t great for drumsets. There wasn’t any room in my parents’ house for one, and I wouldn’t have been able to make all that noise with it if I had one. The one time I lived in my own house, I considered it too temporary to invest in a drumset that would end up in the corner of an apartment somewhere. They’re also expensive, and I’d want to get a good one (probably not the cheapest) the first time: so when I get settle down in a house and have room and have the money, I’ll get one.

What question do you wish interviewers would ask?

These kind are good. Anything that makes me think about stuff I haven’t thought of or articulated much before is good.

Let’s say someone writes you an e-mail and asks you to contribute to a political album, the proceeds of which will go toward trying to put George W. Bush out of office. What would you write back in your e-mail?

I don’t want my music associated with any sort of cause like that. I’ll whore out my music for any sort of compilation album or whatever to have fun and get exposure, but it would be too dishonest for a flaming moderate like me to contribute. Also those kinds of records are sort of naive and dull, and they have a certain douche quality to them. Like all the "free Tibet" stuff just seemed like a quick way to gain hipness. "Oh yeah, Tibet! Wow, the Beastie Boys really care!" I guess I’d tell them thanks for asking and good luck.

Of course, I am thankful that all of Africa’s problems were solved thanks to "We Are the World."

Is your music more like the comedy of The Kids in the Hall or The Daily Show?

The Kids in the Hall. The Daily Show is more about cleverness and perfect delivery of a sharp spear right into the heart of something, which doesn’t sound like me. The Kids in the Hall has a certain sense of absurdity, a certain rhythm, an allowance for mess… I could probably go on, but I don’t know that I’m explaining myself well.

Would you ever do a joke-song album like Adam Sandler?

Yes. I wouldn’t really want to, it’s not high on my list or even on my list, but I wouldn’t put it past myself. It would end up being an album about joke-song albums, of course. I couldn’t do it straight, since I’d want it to have listenability, and those types of albums seldom do more than once or twice.

In one of the remixes of the new TSE single, "Kissy, Kissy," Carrie Hoffman sings some ad-libbed lines about the importance of people making things together. In some ways, this seems to capture the essence of Love and Letters Music and ‘nikcuS Productions. Do you agree, and if so, why is it important for you to create bands and songs with the people who are your friends and girlfriends?

We’re all friends on our fake label. We wouldn’t let anyone in who’s not our friend, so yes. I don’t think it’s the most important thing for friends to make things together in general, but for me, it’s really nice when my pals are willing to do creative stuff with me, since that’s most of what I do with my time. If someone’s going to be close to me, they have to deal with all this crap I do, so it’s cool for them if they can get involved and enjoy it. All of my closest friends have done creative things with me, and everyone together adds to this fake new world my friends and I have been creating since 1989 and before.

Speaking of TSE, since their single "Kissy, Kissy" is your latest: will their songs always be about kissing?

I hope not. It’s been suggested that I round out the kissing trilogy with the next one (that began with a Spector one followed by a Hoffman one), but I’m not even sure that will happen. Maybe I’ll save my kiss song for later. Then again, maybe we’ll just do twelve songs about kissing and call it Twelve Songs About Kissing.

Love and Letters has been in Hattiesburg and Edinburg. Where do you envision it ending up?

Perfectburg, USA.

Go on to Rusty's interview with Carrie.
Disregard any repetitions.

Copyright (c) Aug 2004 by Love and Letters Music