- From what I gather, you're not particularly fond of The Modern Dance - or, at least, as fond as of any other of Ubu's releases. Still, it has always been a favourite from critics and fans alike. In fact, it remains the band's most popular album. I doubt, however, that Why choose to re-play it, release an album of that performance and embark on a tour exclusively based on it? What made you want to focus on it in such a way?
- I like MD fine. I might like other albums better. I think Dub Housing is a masterpiece. I don't think MD is. It doesn't mean I'm not fond of MD. By some counts ART OF WALKING sold more than MD. So I'm not sure it is the most popular. But that doesn't matter. What MD had that none of the others could have was its shock value. It introduced the sound. It was the first.
Why do it? Possibly the most compelling reason goes like this... Pere Ubu albums these days are major productions. They transcend simple album releases. LLPU took more than 2 years, closer to 3, to complete. It was a theatrical production, a concert production, a radio play production and a film production. The next album LADY FROM SHANGHAI will take just as long and will reconstruct the notion of dance in performance. Given the time scales involved, we need to do other things in order to keep functioning as a musical unit capable of intense live interaction. We need to stay sharp as a group. We need to play out. Doing MD gives us that opportunity and it offers up a whole other set of problems to solve that exist on a relatively simple level of craft musicianship. It's a busman's holiday.
- You said about The Annotated Modern Dance: "We tried not to be slavish reproducing the album." As if, the exact reproduction of sounds was not a main concern. How did you feel revisiting all those old songs, some of which you had not even played for decades, and what was the approach to their rediscovering? How do you feel they have "aged"?
- The songs haven't aged. The process of discovery is basic - just figure out what the hell the idea was in the first place. More often than not it was an accident we liked or couldn't be bothered to fix. Or didn't notice at the time. Now since all versions of Ubu have worked essentially in the same way it makes the process of rediscovery simply a matter of extending what is known in the present backwards through time. It's a form of Uniformitarianism. It's the same band that thinks as a band in the same ways. The people now (except me) are different. Band members are individuals who come and go over time and who bring unique personalities to the gestalt. Still they function in the band consistently with what the band requires of them. What is required of any member of Pere Ubu is to be both Slavishly Obedient to The Rules and manifest a Fiercely Independent Spirit.
- Pere Ubu has maintained its unique sound for over 30 years. How did the band successfully maintain its individuality during such musically turbulent decades? Was there ever any pressure to adapt to the mainstream?
- As the American republic is dependent on a strict adherence to its Constitution so Pere Ubu is dependent on its Rules. These rules are laid out at ubuprojex.com/protocols.html. (Note that there are some "secret" Rules which are not published, but that's because the public - civilians - wouldn't understand them.) Lately, at least the last 30-odd years, we have been more successful at sticking to our Rules than the politicians have been at sticking to the Constitution. The Rules are not "living" rules. They are immutable and written in stone. There can be no deviance. There is no such thing as an insignificant rule, or a flexible interpretation. In fact, the more the rule seems to be insignificant and picayune, the more significant it is. I had a discussion with Mehlman just the other day about this. Over the years he has come to see the wisdom of the way that Pere Ubu operates and is now teaching his music students and other bands to adhere to the same principles. He has now converted to the Ubu Way whereas at first he was youthfully sceptical of immutable authority. The World changes - we do not. We are the Mainstream. There is no pressure to adapt to ourselves. We define what the Mainstream is. It am us.
- You often use the term "avant-..." in your comments. What does avant-garde mean to you?
- Nothing. Mostly I use the prefix 'avant' as applied to 'garage.' Avant-garage satirizes the idea of the avant-garde. We are midwesterners. Art is the thing that goes on album sleeves. I don't mean to endorse anti-intellectualism. We are well-rounded and informed. We are well-read. We get it. We just choose to ignore it... officially.
[NB. The difference between an 'intellectual' and an intelligent person is that an intellectual has no experience of the real world and, more to the point, he flees from any contanmination that reality might bring to his mind set.]
Let me tell you a story. In the early days there was a Cleveland musician into electronica who was going to New York to make his name. First thing he did was buy a pair of sunglasses to wear when he got off the plane. I have never forgotten that story. It seems to crystallize my feelings in re 'avant' anything.
It has to also be said that 'avant-garage' was a useful term to adopt in that it summarizes what has always been considered to be the bipolar schism of Ubu: art and pop. Now, we have never considered these poles to be in any way significant. We like pop music. We like 'art' - difficult - music. What's the big deal? We love hard groove rock with hooks and choruses and all that stuff. We love making abstract noise and playing with structure and narrative. What exactly is so strange about any of that? Who says these are 'poles'? Who makes the rules? We do.
The media pigeonholes because most of what they busy themselves with is meant to be pigeonholed. It's consciously produced to fit into a pigeonhole. The media can't be blamed for that. Of course the media works to templates. The classic recent example was the hoax Chamber of Commerce press conference staged in Washington. The major news agencies and networks were there eagerly writing down everything the hoaxer said. They were delighted because the hoaxer was giving them the template they wanted to report. When an official of the actual Chamber of Commerce showed up to inform all assembled that this was a malicious hoax, one reporter told him to shut up and let the hoaxer finish because they had a deadline. They didn't care what they were going to report was a lie. The lie fit what they wanted to report. It fit the pigeonhole. The Media produce and promote the Universe of Lies. That they can be blamed for.
- Pere Ubu comes straight from the dada tradition. How much have you been influenced by this movement?
- Père Ubu, the character, was conceived by Alfred Jarry. Pere Ubu, the band, was conceived by us and has nothing to do with dada. Dada and surrealism - at this point - are historical curiosities with no relevance as a living art. There are important lessons to be learned, of course - valuable production methodologies and narrative tools all fundamental to producing and understanding art in the 20th / 21st Centuries. But to indulge in a regeneration of it is akin to starting a band in the year 2007 that does doo-wop. Why bother? It was done better the first time around when it was alive and fresh. Dada and surrealism is what you do when you're 17, a thing of youth that should be put away with maturity.
- If Pere Ubu was a response to post-war industrial america, what is Pere Ubu's response to post-industrial information age or digital age america?
- Pere Ubu is not a response to post-war industrial America in the way I suspect you mean to suggest. Pere Ubu is a celebration of post-war industrial America. We have to this day a deep and abiding affection for its consumer society. But we were, from the beginning, acutely aware of our place in the stream of history. We were the last of the Americans... like the last of the Mohicans. We were the last ones to have known the Golden Age and we saw the dimness come, and we knew what that meant, and yet we could not find it in ourselves to weep. Still we had seen for ourselves how the sun used to shine off its polished surfaces. So clearly and pure. (After us come the barbarians.) I don't recognize any 'information age' unless you are using the term ironically. The Datapanik Manifesto (1977) dictates that information will become a weapon to be used against us as notions of value and meaning are ridiculed in a storm of confetti. Is that what you mean? If so, silence is the only adequate response but we have another agenda and we are not required to pay any attention at all to anything outside our field of interest. We are not required to be socially responsible or adept - we are rock musicians. It's like watching the game from the bleachers. The fly balls slowly and grandly arc across the green pastures and who wins or loses is a thing of distance and perspective. That's what I learned, at least, from being an Indians fan all those years. Max Alvis, Chico Salmon, Larry Brown, Leon 'Daddy Wags' Wagner, Sudden Sam McDowell. And the Curse of Rocky Colavito.
- Were you consciously trying to bring the techniques of the avant-garde to rock music? Was it as theoretical as that or was it more to do with taking rock 'n' roll at its word and freaking with it?
- Rock is the avant garde. There was no question of taking one to the other. This is a racial problem. Because you are a foreigner you don't understand the nature of rock music as a cultural voice, as the American folk experience, so you are always looking to interpret it in alien terms. This was the problem with punk. Punk was an imperialistic grab at someone else's culture fueled by chicken-hawkers, multi-national corporations and a guy who wanted to sell clothes. It provided a dumbed-down template aimed at the lowest-common denominator that sold the Big Lie that art was something ANYBODY could do. Well it wasn't. It isn't. It never will be. (I always had this problem at Rough Trade in any Desert Island Disk debate-- no one believed, that given one record to take, I wouldn't hesitate a nanosecond to choose John Cougar Mellenkamp's out-takes to any Smiths record. John Cougar was playing the music of his culture with an authentic voice, that Smiths guy, hard as he tried, as great as he was, as much as I liked what he did, could never disguise the stone cold fact that he was a foreigner and once removed from the True Moment.)
- 390 DEGREES OF SIMULATED STEREO has to be the worst recording I have ever heard. The tunes were great, but I was wondering, is this a bootleg album, or was the recording either unintentionally bad due to recordings that were available, or intentionally bad?
- If you look at the back of '390 Degrees Of Simulated Stereo' you'll see the recording device for each song is listed: 'portable cassette machine,' 'one channel of a Braun reel-to-reel,' etc. We listened to all the tapes we had - cassettes, 24-track mobile recordings, professional and amateur. The lo-fi recordings almost always sounded better to us that the hi-fi recordings. The ambiance and distortion and accidental nature of lo-fi more accurately portrayed the material as played live and the band as experienced live. A band on stage is an entirely different experience for the musician as well as the listener. Recording a band live is not simply a matter of transforming the concert venue into a studio. It doesn't work. At least it doesn't work for us. On stage, for example, I can't hear the synthesizer. The frequencies and waveforms are too subtle to survive the chaotic acoustic of the stage and anyway the monitor guy blew out the high end in my right ear when he sent a spike thru the side fill. I know what the synth is supposed to be doing. I trust that it is but I can't hear it. Over to the left, the bass cabinet is too loud and the bottom end a mess because the bass player wants his pants legs to flap in the air pushed by the four 15-inch speakers so everything I sing is drifting in and out of a soup of overtone and noise. Meanwhile, you as the audience are getting a mix of what we think we're playing as interpreted by our sound man who is usually located in the worst acoustical location in the venue compensating for what he thinks the overhang of the balcony might be doing to the lower mids and how the lousy cross-over in the left bank of speakers might be affecting the upper end on the other side of the room. And there you are standing in the part of the venue that pushes the high end to ear numbing levels and your girlfriend is getting tired and cranky and you don't want to look at her because you'll see it in her eyes but you can hear her fidget and she wants to go home and the guy behind you is talking and you're thinking about why the guitar player is laughing. That's what live sound is. We decided that live albums should sound like '390 Degrees' because that's what the live experience is. It's my favorite musical experience and it's my favorite sound. And, of all the tapes, we liked those the best. For more on this subject click here.
- I noticed a weird similarity in recording techniques between most of your records that I've heard and most of the (egad) Grand Funk records I've heard. specifically, the ultra-dry boxy drum sound and the overall dry sound. I know both you and they recorded in cleveland...same studio?
- Yes, and same engineer, Ken Hamann, for the first 3 albums and all the singles, followed by his son, Paul.
- In the RGS booklet you wrote: "To print lyrics is a Bad Thing". I thought that this was a definitive statement (of not reproducing lyrics in written form anymore). My question is: Why are all of Ubu`s lyrics "printed" on your web site ?
- It's always been our policy that if you want the lyrics enough to make a special effort to get them then we would provide them. It used to be that we would send printed lyrics in response to mail requests. We used to announce this availability in our printed communexes and even as long ago as the Tokyo single. At a certain stage, though, this become burdensome and impractical. The issue has always been the separation of the lyrics from the musical experience so as to discredit the notion that lyrics can stand independently. Printing the lyrics on the album or in the cd booklet encouraged this separation so we only did it twice, that I remember. Maybe thrice. Doesn't matter. The internet allows us to provide lyrics to those who make the effort and who want to have them. If you want the lyrics you can find them. If you don't then you don't need we won't burden you with them. Do not go here.
- What kind of synthesizers do Pere Ubu use?
- Robert replies: The synthesizer that both Allen Ravenstine and I use is an EML (Electronic Music Laboratories). Allen used a model 200 and a model 101. I use a model 101 live and I have a Model 200 at home. These were built in USA in the early-mid 1970's. Mine is from 1974 (I think). I bought it in 1978. I also use a home made theremin, built about 1980.
- Do you push for a sense of drama, of the theatrical, with Pere Ubu and other projects?
- David replies, "I don't 'push' for it. it's simply there. The object is to stuff as much data into as small a unit of time/space as possible. if you don't use every trick, every technique, available-- if you don't look to invent new methods every project-- then you're wasting your time. I am naturally theatrical, I suppose, but the object is to always shove more data down the pipeline. Remember in 1976 we called it Datapanik In The Year Zero. Most important, though, is to be in adequate control of what's going on. Which means knowing how to balance the known with the unknown. That's why I describe myself as a laissez-faire perfectionist. Know when to let go of your artifice and allow it to be mugged by reality. My own ideas have never been good enough. I rely on working with others, stirring a soup of conflicting ideas out of which a whole greater than the sum of the parts can emerge."
- I've been reading various Pere Ubu manifesto/philosophies which I find very interesting. Things like "Don't seek success." What's the idea behind messages like that?
- David replies, "We have always concentrated on making good music. If you make good music people will search you out. Maybe not lots of them. But some. As well we have always been laissez-faire perfectionists. Seeking success distracts from the principal function of a musical group. It offers up temptations to deviate from a proper course. I have nothing against "success" -- I love the process of the market in fact-- but not at the cost of vision."
- The track "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" seems somehow prophetic in it's resonance. Once the shock of 9/11 had sunk in, I thought of the track and made a fuzzy connection between the symbolism of your song and the sounds and images pouring from my screen. To cut to the chase, what were you trying to express in that song?
- David replies, "It was a dramatic story of heroism and a book that every schoolboy read - Doolittle's 'suicide' raid on Tokyo in 1942 just two months after Pearl Harbor. A good choice for our cinematic approach. Brief synopsis: US needed to strike a propaganda blow against Japan right after Pearl Harbor and to suggest to Japanese leaders that they were not safe from retribution. Doolittle stripped down a squadron of B-25s of everything but a few bombs, filled all free space with cans of fuel, and launched them off a carrier that they'd never be able to return to (fuel) or land on (size). The plan was to to drop bombs on Tokyo harbor sites and crash land in Japanese-occupied China - if they could make it that far - then somehow get back to America from the other side of the world. Most died, as I remember."
- The artwork you've used on record sleeves is a fantastic portfolio. What's the idea behind your style? Who has had a particular influence on your work in that respect? There's a certain cinematic feel to some of it. Somehow comparable to David Lynch and William Eggleston.
- David replies, "Almost all our artwork has been designed by my best friend, John Thompson. Alot of the photos in the early days were by Mik MeIlon - a friend of the band from the Plaza. I discuss some ideas with John and give him the title. He comes up with a design and sometimes it gets bounced around a little, often not. The idea was always to do artwork that was more than a self-aggrandizing ego thing - note we never put our pictures on the albums except for The Tenement Year which we only did because we had never done it. We even break our own rules. The artwork needs to set a mood that cooperates with the intentions of the music. As well, and possibly more important in the beginning, Mik didn't like to take pictures of people."
- I recall you saying something like "Don't take any of this as ironic." But dammit, now I can't find the quote. So I'm wondering...can you tell me where to find the quote and/or say something like it again? I think it's immensely important to your work. Of course, I might be wrong.
- I don't remember the exact wording and I've said a few things about irony - "last refuge of the weak-willed and cowardly" is the most common. I'm sure some of my work is ironic or tempered by irony but, like self-expression, it's a technique that should only be used by professionals specially trained.
- Some days ago, I was hearing "Sentimental Journey"...As usual, I expected an introduction to a plethora of images and deeper desolation. However, suddenly, my introspection was interrupted by my son (six) who sitting in front to the audio system, laughs as bottles and glasses are broken. Now, Sentimental Journey is one of the funniest songs that I have ever heard. My son was right: the non sense rules.
- Kids understand hyperbole. Listen to a kid's conversation - it's all exaggerations. And for the record, both of your reactions to SJ are now correct. Before your son's intervention your reaction was unbalanced.
- Is it ubu's intention to release live versions of each period of it's recorded output?
- Yes, Apocalypse Now was the first of these projects. From now on, like ANOW, live releases will consist of one, entire and representative concert rather than a collection of disjointed songs (as on '390 Degrees of Simulated Stereo'). Not all will be public releases. The next for example, The Shape of Things, will only be available thru Ubutique and selected mom & pops retailers.
- What stands out as a great Pere Ubu moment? Looking back on all the albums that Pere Ubu has released, are there ones that stand out to you?
- To me they are all steps on a road to somewhere. No one step is more important or noteworthy than the next or previous. Sorry. Truthful answers are often less interesting than fabrications. From the beginning Pere Ubu has been an exploratory mission. I had done the uncompromising brutal rock thing with Rocket From The Tombs. I knew I could do that. I don't like doing things that I know I can do. Pere Ubu is based on being able to "do the uncompromising brutal rock thing" and then seeing where you can go with it. I know where we're going. It's Somewhere Out There. When we reach it I quit.
The end of a thing is always better than the beginning. I continue to look forward to the end of the road. That will be the great Pere Ubu moment. When we can finally look each one to his brother and say, "Well done; our work is finished - rest."
- What years would you cite as the most creatively stimulating? Do you enjoy the creative process more as the years progress?
- I wouldn't, and no. I do not think in terms of "creative stimulation." I hate having to write. I hate having to be "creative." Really don't like it. In fact, I resent it. That's why I try to get as much money out of promoters and record companies as I can - to get back at them for making me do concerts or write albums. Bastards.
- I am having problems finding iconic images for Pere Ubu. I believe the dancing man figure to be quite an iconic image associated with Pere Ubu - is this correct? It looks like a quite communistic image.
- The only icons we ever used are:
You seem to be referring to the Modern Dance artwork. No, we wouldn't consider it to be iconographic. You will notice that it is unlike any other cover we ever did. Nearly everything else is geographical. It is clearly drawn from red Chinese imagery but not with any political motivation. In the early 70s Cleveland was reputed to be home to the largest population of Maoists living outside of China. Cleveland was, also, located at a unique planetary spot which insured that radioactive clouds regularly dumped on us, and us only, from red Chinese nuclear tests. We found great significance in this.
- What was it like having Mayo Thompson in the band? He seemed like a very cool guy when I saw him with Red Crayola a few years back.
- The relationships are complex. Are you asking for an opinion as one man of another? Or as one musician of another? Or of Mayo as a conceptualist or as a musical craftsman or as a constituent of a particular group? Or do you want amusing anecdotes to trade with others as a currency of tittle-tattle? We don't talk about band-buddies. We don't spill the beans. Musical groups are private and secretive organizations. We know too much about each other.
So, how was it working with Mayo? I liked it. He dressed good. The chemistry was good. It was fun.
- Will Pere Ubu ever play the U.S. again?
- We have by no means dumped the US. Our best market is the US. The US is big. We are small.
Pere Ubu is not now and nor has it ever been a viable commercial venture. We won't sleep on floors, we won't tour endlessly and we're embarrassed by self-promotion. Add to that a laissez-faire attitude to the mechanics of career advancement and a demanding artistic agenda and you've got a recipe for real failure. That has been our one significant success to this date: we are the longest lasting, most disastrous commercial outfit to ever appear in rock n roll. No one can come close to matching our loss to longevity ratio.
And if that wasn't enough, consider this. Not only are we too art for the pop world, we are too pop for the art world! So we can't even pick up those big state-subsidized, art-welfare checks. And - wait we're not done! - students don't like us and - frankly - we don't like them. So we can't make out on the fat college circuit either.
Who, then, makes business with us? Record companies, agents and promoters who consider music-art to be important. There are many who do. In the big picture, though, it is a minority.
I make my living entirely from music and have done so since 1975. Others have jobs, full or part-time. We are not free to tour much. We all have families who, not unreasonably, like to have us home. We like to be home. So each year we have a limited amount of time that we can tour. European cities have cultural houses that make for a circuit that does not exist in America. Last year we played about 3 weeks of dates in America, and 7 weeks in Europe. That was alot for us. This year already we've toured 3 weeks in Japan, NZ and Australia. That's probably going to have to be it for awhile.
- That was a great show from you guys. We were a little worried when you called the band off stage after a couple of songs-- but whatever you did, it did the trick.
- Since we see ourselves as amateurs we have no front to protect. Given that, it's still possible to get into a panicked frame of mind when it seems that things are going wrong. In this frame of mind you quickly loose perspective and the ability to concentrate on the immediate task. It's far more productive to simply excuse yourself and leave the stage for a few minutes to have a drink, talk over things, correct any technical problems and establish contingencies. You regain your confidence and level-mindedness and since you're not protecting an image, you loose nothing in the eyes of the audience. And it's always good psychology to worry the audience a little - as long as you can deliver the big pay-off, and we are the sort of men in the sort of group who can deliver the goods.
- How extensive is the Pere Ubu set? Does it change from night to night in terms of songs played?
- We probably go out knowing how to play 15 songs. There's another 5-10 we can fake or remember well from the past. Often we'll throw something together at soundcheck and do it for a few days. The list of songs doesn't change a great deal from night to night. It depends on the phase of the band we're in. At some points everything feels fresh and you like to do the same things night after night cuz it's fun. Other times you're trying to shake things up or settle things down and you juggle the songs more. For the last year we've been doing the songs in alphabetical order and that solves alot of problems cuz most of our difficult songs start with letters later in the alphabet.
- The first album I bought was "Worlds In Collision." I fell in love with that and have consequently bought everything. A lot of the work seems very experimental and spare, while the stuff on "Worlds" and "Cloudland" very polished. Did you do the polished stuff because you felt like you had to?
- Look at things from our perspective. We don't think what we do is experimental and spare. We don't sit around and wonder how we can make this or that idea sound different or odd or unusual. It all sounds pretty normal to us. It's how we hear things. It's how it comes out. So we had an opportunity with those two albums to do what we considered to be truly experimental. We got to go into expensive digital studios with expensive, famous producers and while away the hours approaching our songs from totally different angles. That was experimental as far as we were concerned.
- What are some of the important points in rock music history that people seem to skip? (I realize this question is rather open-ended, just try and give a couple quick hits.)
- I don't do quick hits. If you ask a question you will have to hear the answer. The answer is that they happen everyday unknown to you and everybody else. Culture happens in secret. It happens among small groups of men; and I am very precise when I say "men" because of the requisite qualities of a brotherhood. Women are allowed into bands because they are accorded the honorary status of men and they are expected to adhere to the rules of a brotherhood. Culture happens at the interface of the moment. As the individual is refined in the furnace of the moment he encourages his brothers. They gather strength and sometimes wisdom and expand the craft together. Whether or not anybody else, on the outside, ever knows is irrelevant.
- Pere Ubu seems not to operate like any other rock band. It appears that they make a record, tour briefly, then for all intents and purposes break up, to unpredictably resurface a few years later. Is this an ideal way for you to work?
- We have lives we like to live. We don't want to tour endlessly. We don't travel well. After about a month on the road everything falls apart. Remember, as well, that we are MASSIVELY unpopular. Hardly anybody has ever heard of us; most who have heard of us don't like us. There's not alot of commercial opportunities out there. We depend on the kindness of strangers. At the end of a tour we go about our lives and do the other things we want to do until it is time to start working on another record. That time period is determined by events of the interim and the "vibe." It is not an ideal method. It is our method. At the end of the DUB HOUSING sessions our manager said to us, "Do this record 2-3 more times and you will be commercially successful." We asked him what if we didn't want to do that. He said, "As long as you make good music somebody will put the records out and you'll be able to do what you want but you'll never be successful." That didn't sound so bad.
- To what do you attribute your longevity?
- We are nearly unique. We can create music that has a power, breadth & depth that is frequently breathtaking. We are uncorrupted. We are incorruptible. These qualities will always appeal to some people in the business. Individually, we are in love with the process of creating music within the Pere Ubu structure. There are always surprises.
And it is addictive.
I was having a hard time on stage one night. I got tangled up in my head and I was staring into the pit of despair and public humiliation. In such cases I follow Allen's dictum: If you know you're going to hit bottom then you may as well accelerate going down - you'll hit harder but maybe, just maybe, you'll bounce back up higher. I can always sense an escape strategy when the going gets tough but it usually involves great risk. This particular night I engaged in a highly risky strategy that utterly failed and the show spiralled off into weird awfulness. Afterwards I was talking to T, saying things like, "Sorry, I screwed up the show" and "I know it got weird out there... sorry about that."
"Hey, it's okay. I was along for the ride," Tom said. "I just wanted to see how it was all going to turn out."
- What does it mean to have been "indie" before "indie" came into vogue?
- There is nothing alternative or indie about anything in music these days. There is only Successful and Unsuccessful. We are Unsuccessful. We are no good at anything other than being good at being Unsuccessful. Because we come from professional middle-class families we have always known that we can do anything else in life more successfully than make music so we've never had an incentive to do anything other than exactly what we want. We are spoiled. Or we have integrity. Depends on your point of view. Professional middle-class families traditionally stress intellectual/poetic pursuits over material gain. Pere Ubu is nothing if not traditional.
- I saw you on stage and to me it was a sort of transcendental experience but I want to know if you feel totally involved in it or is it an act?
- Would you know the difference? When Frank Ryan handed the ball to Jim Brown for an off-tackle play was it an act or was he totally involved in the experience?
- You said that work needs to be social, communal and cooperative but on the other hand you insist on doing everything by yourself. Isn't that a contradiction?
- How can you say I do everything by myself? That utterly insults the other musicians who are as responsible for the final product as I am, often more so. The artwork has been done by John Thompson for nearly 20 years. We tell him the name of the album and mention a few ideas. He does the rest. We've worked with the same engineers for 22 years. They are an integral part of not only our sound but our philosophy. We've had the same management team for 15 years. They are treated as equals and are involved in all details of the creative work. My manager chooses the people I play with in the 2pbs. I tell him I need a guitar player. He tells me which one. I'm simply the one everyone talks to. Whose fault is that? Yours. You could've talked to any other member of the band. You had to talk to me cuz I'm the singer. How is any of the above NOT social, communal or cooperative?
- You said that neither the English nor the Greeks can really play rock' n' roll. Are you serious?
- Absolutely. I could learn to play styles of music native to your culture. I could imitate them like a monkey is made to imitate human behavior. A monkey is not a man and never will be. Why do you think foreigners can produce American culture? Fundamental to rock music is the American geography and the American aesthetic of space & motion as a language of understanding. It's not better than a Greek form of language. It's different and shows up different facets of the human experience. That's the advantage of cultural difference. What happens when a Greek imitates something American? He becomes a citizen of Nowhere and forsakes the advantages of being Someone Somewhere.