Friday, November 11, 2011

Old chat with KV, online this time

Here's the contents of a quick chat I had with good buddy Kurt Vile. It took place in the autumn of 2010. This piece originally ran in the pages of Negative Guest List magazine. You're unlikely to find a copy of that pub on the shelves of any store anywhere. It's only fair to make available this enlightening discussion to a whole new generation of tech-savvy readers & music fans.

KV & daughter, 2011

Philadelphia is an American city that stands proudly on a strip of land between two brown and polluted rivers. You could cross either river by driving or even walking over a bridge. But there’s no good reason to do so. On the other side of the Delaware lies New Jersey, a state known for endless highways, shopping malls, Bruce Springsteen, and beaches where hypodermic syringes routinely wash ashore with the shredded globs of dismembered jellyfish. On the other side of the Schuylkill: an area called West Philadelphia famous for college campuses, poor grooming habits, and communal lifestyles. Between these two cultural wastelands, Philadelphia is full of a lot old buildings, some new ones, an rickety public transportation system, and old men who use their walkers to smack around young people. It’s populated with all types of inbred mutants, drug-addicted zombies, stuck-up losers, and cocky pricks from all strata of society.
One such cocky prick is a guy named Kurt Vile who plays guitar and sings. He’s a handsome man with youthful good looks and he’s got about two dozen brothers and sisters. Most of them are also musicians, but I’ve never heard any of their tunes. Anyway it’s been a real treat to hear KV chase his muse over the course of about half a dozen records and to watch him take the stage (particularly when THE VIOLATORS are behind him).

This interview was originally conceived as a real blockbuster for the front cover of NME, but Kurt proved too wily to pin down in the days leading up to his US Tour. Instead of a lengthy dose of penetrating journalism, I instead offer some volleys sent back and forth from my miserable living room in Philadelphia to Kurt’s blackberry as he hurdled through some of the more bucolic stretches of the network of the United States highway system.

What’s up tonight?

Be better once we get to Seattle. Get there late night tonight but 2 days to get there from Menneapolis, been nonstop drivin, kinda brain frying, and radio show at noon tomoro. Starting tomoro be best for interview, plus we got a TM on west coast..

My man is hoping to get it done soon. Wanna just text it?

Yeah sure, how long is it gonna be? I’ll be driving in a couple hours and I’m kinda tired now thought so I don’t know how interesting I’ll be but I can do it now if ya want..

Well why don’t you tell me a little bit about your new van...

It’s sweet. It had only 40k miles on it when I got it. It’s a dodge Ram 3500 15-passenger. A nice dark blue in color, looks beautiful at night especially. I don’t know why. I’m stoked. Never imagined owning my own. Right now Adam is driving and we’re jamming a Yoko Ono tape that I stole from you. Everyone loves it in the band except for Mike Zanghi! It’s a nice landscape right now though: Montana style.

What do you mean? It’s all flat and gray with a stunning sunset?

The Rocky Mountains, guy. Not flat at all. Mountains, rolling hills, winding highway roads, lots of green, pine trees, sunsets, cows... The whole shebang. (single tear rolls down face)

PS signal tricky round here you’ll probably get some delays, just don’t worry too much about me.

But I always worry about you. Somebody has to keep an eye on you, teach you right from wrong, etc..

Yeah but I’ve finally blossomed into a beautiful grown man. Thanks to you Richie. And now it’s time I moved on and went into the world on my own.

And I guess I was thinking about Wyoming or Utah or some other place.

Wyoming has Yellowstone Nation Park. That is similar to here and beautiful as well. I think some of Yellowstone is also in Montana but I could be wrong. I HAVE been wrong before.. Montana has Glacier Nation Park too. That’s intense.

Are you guys finding time to visit parks and take in all the natural beauty of our United States?

No time for that much. Few days off here and there but.. Violators are tight from all the gigs, that’s good at least. Gonna play live on kexp Seattle tomorrow morning. That’s why we’re bookin’ it over from Minneapolis with two days to get there. 26+ hour drive with no stops (but we stop).

Touring can be a struggle. Do you focus more on physical of mental fitness when you’re on the road.

Well... Mental fitness is good to shoot for. A lot of trial and error on that front. We’re doin’ pretty good on this run but in the past there’s been some roughish moments. Trying now to take it slow, ya know? Don’t let little shit stress you out, one thing/day at a time. And don’t talk shit behind backs. Paranoia gets evil. We’re doin’ good though! Physical? I dunno, whatevs, we’re still young...

You been eating right? You’ve got to take care of your body, man.

I try, Rich. It’s all I can do. My body craves some bad foods, now and again. But I’m only human. Wow, What a boring subject!

I’m telling you dawg: Your body is the most precious vessel you’ll ever own.

(The Philadelphia Phillies turned in an offensively limp performance to lost to the San Francisco Giants.)

Did you hear about the Phils?

Yea only cuz of my psycho bandmates. ‘Aw man I really hope they keep Werth...’

I’m impressed that you can spell the rightfielder’s name correctly.

I was wondering if I did or if you’re being sarcastic. What can I say, I just love games.

It’s like I’ve always said: All the bush league batters are left to die on the diamond.

Thanks, Shakey.

I bought a CANNED HEAT record. What do you think about that?

Cool. We just listened to hallelujah seconds ago. Check out the tune “Time Was”. One o the best tunes I heard all year..

I’ll give it an ear. I’ve been going back over some obvious tunes that I never really gave a chance. Might even listen to the Stones of of these days.

I’ll get u Beggars Banquet. Can’t deny them man. Can you imagine if all there was was the VU? That frequency all the time. Too jagged after a while.. Beggars has a jagged sound alot too (in a way) but more delta blues and a relatively new dabbling into heerion vibe. Nobody got quite close to that style of blues ever again. If there was no Keith Richards there’d be no nobody post.

You should download the song “time was” right now and jam it in headphones btw. Lemme know whatcha think. Bet it makes you feel super good.

(Turns out he’s right. Great melancholy tune.)

So are the VIOLATORS in tact for the foresesable future?

I think so. I hope so. The original lineup can NOT be beat.

That kicks ass.


For the deleted first draft, click here.

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