Tag Archives: jeffrey lewis

PM is off to ATP this morning. PM is the winner.

Should you be both attending this weekend’s ATP Vs. The Fans event and interested in stalking the unknowns of the ‘blogosphere, these are some of the acts PM will be watching. Whilst drunk and weeping and shouting, probably. See you at the Pizza Hut buffet!

Jeffrey Lewis

Look here for a recent interview PM did with Lewis himself.

Electric Wizard

Heavy, heavy jams.

Retribution Gospel Choir

Heads!

The Acorn

Have a look at PM’s review of The Acorn’s latest LP.

Errors

Splat.

Grails

Mondo rifferama.

Visit ATP here. The website, obviously. As if by clicking on a link you’d suddenly be whisked away to a sodden festival with ants and metal. Don’t be a plum.

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Jeffrey Lewis Interview Pt.2

Continued from yesterday.

jeffrey lewis  I’m reading ‘Watchmen’ for the first time – what should I look out for?

JL: It’s hard to say. I guess, reading the comic, there’s no way to catch it all on the first read or the second read. Try to pay attention to everything in every panel. Take your time to fully take in all the details of each panel, but don’t worry too much about driving yourself crazy wondering what you’re missing out on, because there really is no way to pick up on everything going on. Part of the fun of it is that every time you read it there’s new stuff that you missed before, and on the first reading is the only time you’re going to experience the thrill and the pacing of the whole thing and enjoying the whole thing itself. Basically, I now can’t see the woods for the trees because the examination of it, which was certainly fun, hasn’t allowed me just to take it as a story.

Now, the sex scene in ‘Watchmen’, right, is hilarious. It’s so out of place in the film. When I picked up the comic I immediately skipped to that part to see what it was like, and it was much more tasteful.

JL: That’s funny, because that hadn’t stuck out in my mind. I’ve seen a lot of criticism that says “oh, that one sex scene, it’s so bad!“, and I thought the Leonard Cohen song was a corny thing to throw in, but it kind of fit with the rest of the song choices. If anything stuck out as wrong to me, it was the earlier scene with Dan and Laurie where they’re fighting the thugs in the alleyway, and they’re just so completely brutal, tearing this crowd of thugs apart…

That scene was pretty shocking, I remember one of the guy’s bones being forced through the skin of his forearm, it was pretty nuts.

JL: Yeah, I’m as into screen violence as the next guy, I watch a lot of horror movies and all of that stuff, I’m not anti-violence in movies. But part of the point of those characters is that they’re the most human characters in the story, and if they’re just as violent and murderous and vicious as Rorschach or anybody else, then it kills some of the point of the story. If they’re vicious killers, what’s the point of Rorschach’s character? And also, because the movie removes all the human characters from the story and the comic book has so many more normal people in it, Dan and Laurie are supposed to be the most normal of the superheroes and it kind of de-humanises them by having them be so vicious. It takes away a lot of the emotional basis of the whole story. It’s like there’s no normal people to care about. I thought the movie was relatively well-done, considering how much worse it could’ve been. They did as good a job as one could expect.

What kind of horror movies do you like? 

JL: Mostly older stuff, 80s stuff. For some reason, I haven’t watched that much modern stuff. I really love ‘Evil Dead II’, it’s one of my favourites. It’s so unpredictable, you think it’s a horror movie but it’s also a comedy, almost a superhero movie. By the time it’s done, you’re like “what the hell did I just watch?”, but the piece fit together so well. It breaks all its own formulas. And then there’s ‘Street Trash’, which is an absolutely brilliant movie. It’s not as well-known, but it’s just amazing. I had an experience recently where I saw it with a bunch of friends, I hadn’t seen it in a few years, and apparently the version that’s now available on DVD is a totally different edit than the version I’ve seen so many times, which sucks. There’s all these extra scenes that are really stupid and kill a lot of the streamlined pacing of it, so I feel like I can’t fully recommend ‘Street Trash’, and I feel bad that I’ve been telling everyone for years that they have to see it. I wish that wasn’t the case.

I read that Sam Raimi is planning to remake the original ‘Evil Dead’. What do you think about that?

JL: Well, I’m not sure what he’d do with it, the first one is pretty perfect as it is. The fact that it’s so low-budget and lo-fi is part of what makes it great. I finally got to see, after many years of searching, Sam Rami’s original film called ‘Into The Woods’, a sort-of student short film about 20 minutes long that later ended up becoming ‘Evil Dead’. It was impossible to get your hands on it for years, or it couldn’t be legally released, it just circulated on bootlegs. I was hoping I’d get to see it at some point, and I looked for it at conventions… I met a guy in Ireland in a bar who said he had a connection to it and that he’d send me a copy but I never got it. It was this kind of elusive, almost mythical thing, and then finally I tracked it down on YouTube but they keep taking it down. That was really cool to see, it was really low-budget, maybe some tenth-generation bootleg so it was uber-grainy and very amateurish, but it’s great to see how his whole concept started.  

We’ve wandered off-topic somewhat. You’re playing the ATP Festival in May, and I can’t wait. Are you planning on sticking around for the whole weekend? Who do you want to see?

JL: I haven’t seen what the line-up is, I know that the day we’re playing we’re gonna be followed by Devo, or at least we’re on the main stage and there’s us, then a band, then Devo. I’m really excited, I’m a big Devo fan and I’ve never seen them play. I think at this point we don’t have a show booked on the following day, so I’ll check out what the schedule is.  

In your song ‘Back When I Was 4’ there’s a line about how your older self flushes his best friend, a goldfish, down the toilet, and it breaks my heart. I’ve been there. Have you?

JL: I can’t say that I have. I had some frogs once that I kept in a box, but they escaped and unless they were living in my room I have no proof they survived. I like the idea of having a dog on tour, but it’d have to be for US tours only.  

I guess it’s crueller to have a dog when you’re an international musician.

JL: Yeah, immigration laws are tough on pets.

As ever, you can visit Jeffrey here. This interview also appears here, at The Fly.

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Jeffrey Lewis Interview Pt.1

Recently, PM spoke to Jeff Lewis. It was good. He’s really nice and knowledgeable. It was early in the morning for him though, so he took a few moments to warm up.

jeffrey lewis

What time is it over there, is it early?

JL: It’s pretty early, it’s about 9:30… 

Have you had any breakfast yet?

JL: Nope.

Any plans for breakfast?

JL: Uhh, no plans.

Do you have a morning routine? I suppose it’s quite a fragmentary lifestyle that you lead…

JL: It’s pretty random, I don’t have a regime.

You’re off to Australia tomorrow, are you excited?

JL: Yeah, it’s pretty thrilling, I’ve got a lot to do before I go though. I’m not sure what to expect when I get there.

Have you even packed?

JL: Noooooo…

I’ve been listening to ‘Roll Bus Roll’ from your new album. Do you get lonely when you’re on the road?

JL: It’s funny, because I hadn’t even thought it was interpretable as an on-the-road touring song. It’s funny that people might think of it that way, I hadn’t realised it until yesterday. We tour in little cars mostly. It’s more about experiences taking Greyhound buses, specifically between New York and Maine, where I go to my cabin in the woods to get away and work on my comic books. It’s kind of a jarring experience to go from the hustle and bustle of New York and have a ten-hour bus ride and get to Maine in the morning. From the bus in Maine to where the cabin is, it’s like a thirty mile hitch-hike, and then there’s a mile of dirt road where my little shack in the woods is. There’s no electricity, no computer, just perfect for getting artwork done.

How often do you go there?

JL: I used to spend a lot of time there, like 3 or 4 or 5 months out of the year. The last few years it’s just been whenever I get a chance go for a couple of weeks. Maybe a couple of times each year.

Do you take your guitar?

JL: Yeah. I write a bit. It’s mostly for doing comic books, but I usually end up with some songs by the time I go. I guess I was there about month or so ago. It’s definitely a weird emotional experience. I mean, you don’t need to buy tickets in advance, you can just get on that midnight bus and be in a completely different environment.

I wanted to ask you about ‘The Upside-Down Cross’, which your brother Jack wrote. There’s a trumpet solo on there.

JL: Yeah, the writing was all Jack. Usually he’ll present a bassline and lyrics and then I’ll flesh it out with a guitar arrangement and some arranging ideas, maybe we’ll change or adjust some of the lyrics. That song we had some differences on how we were going to end up mixing it. Jack has his own musical projects, he can do what he wants with his songs in his band…

But this is coming out under your name… 

JL: Theoretically.

You’ve released records under several different names, with the Jackals, this one is Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard, sometimes it’s you and your brother… why the constant name-changing?

JL: Partially it’s because my brother and I can never agree on a name. He’ll come up with something and I’m not that into it, I’ll come up with something and he’s not into it. Every time we print a new shirt or go on a new tour we need a new band name… it’s very hard to apply a name to project that already exists. It’s much easier to start out with a band name. If you already have a band and try to think of a name that describes it accurately, that’s very challenging. And also the band line-up is flexible, y’know?

Any names you rejected? 

JL: Tons and tons. I’m always partial to alliteration myself, I usually like the ones that start with ‘J’ or ‘L’…

You recently recorded a cover of Eminem’s ‘Brain Damage’ with Laura Marling. What drew you to that song?

JL: We’re doing this weekly podcast series for The Guardian, and that’s the first episode. I’m supposed to get the second episode in today, but I’m really behind the deadline, there’s a lot of work to do on that. I thought doing something with Laura with back-and-forth vocals would be good, and that song ‘Brain Damage’ has parts where he has dialogue with his mother and with a nurse, so I thought might lend itself to Laura and I keeping that dialogue aspect.

Your version makes it sound like a Jeffrey Lewis song instead of a hip-hop song. Do you listen to any other hip-hop?

JL: To a certain extent. It’s not my main musical intake, but I do have my share of hip-hop stuff. Eminem is kind of a new discovery for me. I’d heard his bigger hits, but that album in particular, ‘The Slim Shady LP’, grabbed me more than his other albums because he’s not really rich and famous yet. A lot of it is about living through rough times, school, being broke. So much popular hip-hop is about being rich and famous, and this is a more interesting angle and topic to write about.

More tomorrow! Visit Jeffrey Lewis at his MySpace and enjoy his whims.

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