MP: You mentioned your friends that are in rock bands, now, I know that you grew up with Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin and Charlie [Moothart]. They are all, somewhat, in the same vein, but you went and did your own thing with some other influences. Maybe you could explain how you started playing that type of music?
NW: I think that a lot of the people who pick influences are going about it the wrong way. I can’t tell you how many erroneous write-ups I’ve heard about [me] that say, “Clearly influenced by Motown on this song!”[Ned Flanders voice]. You’ve got to realize, and this is part of why I do identify, and I’m friends with somebody like Ty, is that our feelings about music are, like, this weird post-hippie cosmic idea that it all comes from the same place, it’s all the same feeling. For me, the jump between playing The Seeds – “Pushin’ Too Hard” and a rad Bo Diddley song and a Johnny “Guitar” Watson song and a Mose Allison song and a John Coltrane song, those things are all threaded through the same place. Then you can go in the other direction that I would say that somebody like Ty does or my friends in the Allah-Las that are influenced more by guitar based rock. I think that people just have… Our generation was so conditioned on this guitar culture, and even in rejecting guitar culture, like people who are really into dance music now were into guitar culture ten years ago, so they’re doing that in opposition of guitar culture. I went into the third dimension away from that.
But, for me it’s the spirit of the thing that is the same. That’s where I do share a thread with all these people that I grew up around that became the Burger Records scene because all that stuff is what I was playing around in, and didn’t seem like that big of a deal around Costa Mesa and Fullerton and Santa Ana in 2002, 3, or 4 when I was in a band. You never know what something is going to turn in to, but to be honest when I was a teenager I was in a band that drew a lot of comparisons to The Animals and The Kinks and The Who, but I had already wanted to move towards, for lack of better terms, more eclectic influences, because while I was listening to The Animals when I was 14 I would hear some weird Spencer Davis song that has a flute on it, and when you’re a 14 year old kid in the suburbs you’re like, “Guys! What if we put a flute on it!?” and everybody’s like, “What the fuck are you talking about?”. So I just kind of gave up on that when I was about 18 and I thought that was going to be the answer. I think I took a long enough break from being in that world that I got my own footing that was maybe another part of it.
MP: Well, keep doing what you’re doing, it’s absolutely working.
NW: Well, thank you. And you know, I think we all need, as young people, we all need to be aware that we can’t trust these forbearers of Gen X values because so much of their agenda was about cynicism masked as intellect, and that’s the promising and wonderful thing about now is. Take somebody like Ty, and it’s really hard to explain this, but when Ty started to get bigger, it was amazing because Ty was the only guy that I met that was respected as a cool artist that was positive all the time and was psyched to be doing what he’s doing and not fucked up and not a fucking asshole and he’d say, “Dude! I want to cover Black Sabbath’s Paranoid because I want to do it.” The point is, we do this because it feels good. I think that’s the kind of action that’s actually super radical in this era. Every write up and every blog and every review has to be all about… there was a poet that said “Analysis is but a polite word for dissection and death”. You just have to pick apart things just so you can kill them, and maybe the point is just the big wild energy of it all. So, changing our critical stance […] is really important. To grow up with people who the most important records for them when they were young was Radiohead’s Kid A, which was by a guitar band that gave up guitars intentionally to use synthesizers. That’s the wrong foundation in my opinion to judge music on now. Everyone needs to move forward and develop a new critical faculty even though that’s fine, it’s just not for our era.
You were talking about me smiling, well fuck yeah I’m gonna smile! I get to play this! Right now! This is good! I have feelings too, I’m sad, I’m frustrated, but I don’t see the point in being dour or trying to mask how you actually try to feel […] and that’s really important to me. What’s important to me is the transcendent part of it and it’s cliché to say that it’s about music, but it’s good, that’s why it’s happening.
MP: And I hate the word Post-ironic, but you’re just a guy up there having fun, playing music that you think sounds good and screw the person that says it’s a reference to some earlier time, it doesn’t matter anymore.
NW: Anybody can listen to anything at anytime now, so what are you going to do, huh? Are you going to invent a new 12 tone scale? And who wants to listen to the new 12 tone scale, more importantly? Nobody.
I mean I’m all for art, I really appreciate art, I just think that it’s over taken the psychology of how people want to think about music in one way or another. So, this is just my little part of the world that I get to control so that’s how I feel about it.
Willie Knows How - Willie West
Blistering guitar line and driving rhythm on this thing. Willie West’s vocal is really nice too.
Barbara Lewis - Spend A Little Time