Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Thursday. How are you? I have to start to say it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. At least getting a breast cancer exam in October means someone besides yourself someone will be touching your breasts this year. Just kidding. That was rude to say.
Yesterday, Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy announced that he will not seek reelection at the end of his term, Politico reports. This announcement follows news that the married, pro-life Republican congressman was having an affair with forensic psychologist Shannon Edwards, and that he asked her to have an abortion when she thought she might be pregnant. According to Politico, many top Republicans have privately said that Murphy should resign over the scandal, but that doesn't seem to be in his plans. Murphy issued a statement reading, "After discussions with my family and staff, I have come to the decision that I will not seek reelection to Congress at the end of my current term. I plan to spend my remaining months in office continuing my work as the national leader on mental health care reform, as well as issues affecting working families in southwestern Pennsylvania." Murphy's statement also said, "In the coming weeks I will take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties and seek healing. I ask you to respect our privacy during this time.” The "Pittsburg Post-Gazette" obtained documents (including the text messages between Murphy and Edwards) that show a hostile work environment at Murphy's office. In a June 8th memo written to Murphy, titled "Office Conduct and Behavior: Harassment/Lega Compliance," Murphy's chief of staff, Susan Mosychuk, mentions a "pattern of sustained inappropriate behavior." The six-page memo states that Murphy's office staff has had a 100 percent turnover rate over the past few years, which Mosychuk sees as being due to Murphy's behavior. She claims that Murphy created a state of "terror" in the workplace by constantly disparaging and threatening employees. Sounds like a great guy all around!
In a two minute exchange that is peak Kellyanne Conway, the Counselor to the President took the opportunity to blame Obama, Hillary, and the media's "obsession" with the Russia scandal for the gun violence epidemic in the United States. While meeting survivors and first responders at a Las Vegas hospital, Trump was asked about gun control, and said, "we're not going to talk about that today." So Conway said that the problem's on Democrats for not tweeting about gun control earlier. "You will see that this conversation isn’t being had until tragedies like this strike by those who try to be the loudest voices. You see Hillary Clinton, who’s out on a book tour, talking about herself, not talking about this," Conway said. "You see her rushing to judgement on Twitter the other day while people are still looking through the rubble, searching through the hospitals for their missing loved ones, trying to politicize it." "Your obsession with Russia has been to the exclusion of this conversation." "Kellyanne, I’m tired, so I apologize in advance, but I have to tell you, a lot of this just doesn’t wash,” the exhausted Chris Cuomo interjected. "All you need to know about the bump stock is that it was legal and that’s what allowed him to lay down that field of fire. That’s all you need to know about it. There’s no thoughtful conversation to have about it." Same, Chris Cuomo. Same. Blame Hillary: Check. Blame the media: Check. And it wouldn't be a Trumpy interview without somehow blaming Obama. Conway noted that it was under the Obama administration that bump stocks, which made the Las Vegas shooter's assault rifle function like an automatic weapon, were not regulated. "So you admit it was a mistake in 2010. Why don’t you fix it right now?" Cuomo asked. But once again, Conway deflected, despite admitting that bump stocks should be regulated... an important aspect of the gun control debate. "No, I’d like everybody to be involved in the conversation here, because that was seven years ago, for a different president. Donald Trump was busy being a successful businessman in New York," she retorted. Meanwhile, Conway told Fox News this morning that the administration "always welcome[s] thoughtful conversations." While there has yet to be any evidence that that is the case, hopefully she proves us wrong.
When it comes to being insensitive about national tragedies, Americans should really leave things to President Donald Trump. Unfortunately, local Vermont newspaper the "Bennington Banner" did not get the memo. As noted by "The Sun," the "Bennington Banner" printed a cartoon in the Tuesday edition of their paper drawn by cartoonist Randall Enos. The hastily-drawn image is of a big pile of face-less bodies laying on the ground. The handwritten caption reads, "Whatever happens in Vegas...ends." Here is the cartoon...
The tasteless cartoon is, of course, in reference to the tragic mass shooting that occurred in Las Vegas Sunday night. Nearly 60 people were murdered and several hundred were injured. Many expressed outrage over the cartoon, both in real life and on Twitter. The newspaper quickly caught wind of the backlash. The "Bennington Banner"'s president Fredric D. Rutberg published an apology for the cartoon on the website Tuesday afternoon. "We regret and apologize for publishing the cartoon. The decision to publish was made in haste. We are addressing the matter internally. The gravity of our error in judgment was magnified by the fact that one of victims of the unspeakable horror was a native of Dorset, whose family and friends must have been particularly offended by this cartoon. As the president of the company, the responsibility for the grievous error is mine, and I apologize to the entire Bennington community that the Banner was so insensitive." The "Bennington Banner" Facebook page also shared a statement, explaining the intentions behind the cartoon. "Our interpretation of Randall Enos' cartoon was that little would be done with regard to gun control measures in the United States even after such an unprecedented tragedy," the post reads. "While we believe that is a conversation that needs to happen in this country, we must first mourn and honor the victims and provide comfort to their families and friends." If Randall Enos finds himself in need of a new cartooning job (which he just might), perhaps the Trump administration is hiring.
Not only is Donald Trump Jr. is a staunch supporter of protecting gun rights, but he is also all for gun silencers, a hot button issue in politics at the moment. As pointed out by The Daily Dot, Trump Jr. appeared in a (40-minute long) promotional video for SilencerCo, a company that makes gun silencers, which muffle the sounds of gunshots. Silencers are currently strictly regulated in the United States, and the NRA and its supporters are trying to change that. The video featuring Trump Jr. was released in late September 2016, shortly before the election. In the video, the president's son explains that silencers are great because they make guns more accessible to little kids. “It’s about safety, it’s about hearing protection... it’s a health issue frankly, for me. Getting little kids into the game, you know, it greatly reduces recoil. It’s just a great instrument, there’s nothing bad about it at all," he says in the video, failing to recognize how guns are dangerous (especially around children) and can easily kill humans. "It makes total sense, it’s where we should be going," he continues. "It's just another rule the government wants to put in place for no reason... it doesn't make any sense to me." Don't worry Donald Jr., we're happy to help you make sense of it. Following the mass shooting in Las Vegas Sunday night, many gun control advocates, including Hillary Clinton, pointed out how gun silencers relate to shootings. "The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots," Clinton tweeted. "Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get." A survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting wrote an op-ed for "USA Today," explaining that he only survived the massacre because he heard the gun shots. He also points out that police officers and other law enforcers are "expected to hear, locate and react quickly to gunshots." If gun silencers were made more widely accessible and legal, the United States could welcome even more unnecessary deaths at the hands of guns. Right now, politicians should be working to prevent more mass shootings like the one that happened Sunday night in Las Vegas by putting stricter gun control laws in place. Instead, the GOP is prioritizing a bill that would legalize gun silencers. Watch Donald Trump Jr.'s weird video here...
youtube.com/watch?v=0vlu2G5UkXk&feature=youtu.be. His comments about why gun silencers are good for kids start at about 33:25.
Stephen Paddock, the mass murderer who shot and killed 59 people and injured hundreds of others, apparently has a history of being a dick. How fitting. The "Los Angeles Times" spoke with Esperanza Mendoza, supervisor of the Starbucks inside the Virgin River Casino in Mesquite, Nevada. Paddock and his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, frequented the location.“It happened a lot,” Mendoza told the "Los Angeles Times," referring to Paddock publicly "berating" Danley. It would usually happen after she would ask to use his casino card to buy something at the Starbucks. “He would glare down at her and say... with a mean attitude... ‘You don’t need my casino card for this. I’m paying for your drink, just like I’m paying for you.’ Then she would softly say, ‘Okay’ and step back behind him. He was so rude to her in front of us.” Mendoza added that Paddock had a large bags under his eyes, making it look like "he never slept." She and the other Starbucks employees were stunned to find out he was the terrorist behind the attack Sunday night. “That’s because of what he’d done and because we have been face to face with this man so many times,” she said. As Mashable explains, many news outlets chose to call Paddock by undeservedly kind euphemisms such as a "lone wolf," "a typical Vegas guy," and "a friendly gambler" instead of labeling him a terrorist. He likely got this walking-on-eggshells treatment because he was a white man. But Mendoza's recollection of Paddock's day-to-day behavior reminds us that there's no need to remember him as any of those way-too-kind things... especially considering he was apparently such a dick in real life.
Okay, so, if you are thinking of cheating on your loved one you might wanna think twice after seeing this...
Ouch. Haha. You know, I have never been arrested but if I was I wouldn't want to be wearing this t-shirt in my mug shot...
Hahahaha. I love the smug look on his face. People here in Florida try to get away with some license plates that are not very nice. Like this one for instance...
Glad I didn't show that one when I was in Gainesville. So, you know I love football and Star Wars, right? Well, I think some people like them both more than me...
Ugh. Why does he have to be a Dolphins fan? So, it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and all this month I decided I would show pics of one of my favorite things here... side boobs. But not just a pic of side boobs... side boobs with tattoos. Check it out...
You're welcome, fellas. Okay, so, Halloween is just around the corner and you might be trying to figure out what costume to wear. How about the Sexy Border Patrol...
Break hearts AND break up families! Halloween is still 26 days away, but I'm already sick of seeing some costumes. For instance... Hugh Hefner. Now that Hefner is gone, you better bet that dudes everywhere looking for a last minute Halloween costume are going to grab their bath robes and emulate the late "Playboy" creator. But hey, if you happen to have several attractive female friends with bunny costumes at your disposal, this costume could be legendary. Hey, it's Thursday, and you know what that means...
A man almost ate this cockroach, found inside a packet of GoldenBoy crispy anchovy snack. The cockroach was difficult to spot initially as it was coated with sesame seeds, making it blend together with the snack. He had bought a GoldenBoy crispy anchovy snack and almost ate a small cockroach after eating about 1/3 of the snack. The cockroach even had sesame seeds on it, which means that it came along with the anchovies inside. That's fucking disgusting!
Hmmm. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, it's Thursday and you know what that means. It's time to talk football with my good friend Jeff.
Me: Hey, Jeff, welcome to the Phile, How are you?
Jeff: Always glad to be back here on the Phile, trying to get back to a normal life after the chaos that was Sunday night and Monday.
Me: Okay, so, last Sunday I went to my first NFL game and it was so much fun. After the game Tampa Bay fans were chanting "Own Four! Owen Four!" I have know idea who Owen Four is. He seemed pretty popular though. Hahaha. When you went to games did people chant after?
Jeff: I told you it's an entirely different experience at the stadium then you'll ever get on TV. No, I cant remember any chants after the game. Owen Four? I think that guy is in the Hall of Fame.
Me: Ha! I was surprised there was as much people wearing Giants gear there than Bucs gear. Would you be surprised? I think a lot of tourists were from New York were at the game.
Jeff: Some teams travel well with their fans. I have been to a few sporting events where it's hard to tell who is the home team. I went to baseball game in Tampa where I swear 95% of the stands were wearing Red Sox shirts. That would be the American League East Division champ Boston Red Sox. Wait, wrong sport. Never mind.
Me: I love the trash talking that was going on... did you ever take part in that? I didn't on Sunday... I just listened. There was one woman who wouldn't sit down and so many people were getting mad at her... she was yelling at everyone. I was hoping someone was filming it and it would go viral. What is the craziest thing you saw with fans at games, Jeff?
Jeff: When I went to football stadiums the worse thing I saw was booing when someone walked by wearing a different shirt than the home team. Again, to that game with the Rays-Red Sox the only thing the fans would agree on was "Yankees Suck." There were a fan chants that day!
Me: Anyway, it was a close game and we lost just by one point in the last four seconds. Ugh! Still a great game. So, speaking of a lot of Giants gear at the Tampa Bay game, apparently the Chargers playing a home game seemed like and Eagles home game. Did you see this? The 27,000 seat Stub Hub Stadium was overrun with Eagles fans, with the venue erupting with “Let’s go Eagles” chants throughout the game.
Jeff: I did see that in L.A. First off, it's a soccer stadium so it's smaller than an NFL stadium. Plus the Chargers aren't any good this year, so it makes sense for the fans not to support the team. It's their first season in L.A. as well.
Me: Did you see the Raiders training staff covered Marshawn Lynch as he sat during the national anthem? At the game I was at Tampa Bay did the usual thing during the national anthem and the Giants stood, interlocking arms. Tampa was in a tight spot at what to do as there's a military base just ten miles from the stadium.
Jeff: I did see that Marshawn Lynch was covered during the National Anthem. It is a tough spot for Tampa, but in a college football game the entire team kneeled. What team? Army. So clearly it's not about the flag or patriotism. That's just what some people want you to believe.
Me: And did you see Phillip Rivers go absolutely ape shit on the Chargers coaches, tearing his wristband in half? Ironically, Chargers fans look the same every Sunday. Haha.
Jeff: I'm not saying I condone Phillip Rivers actions, but I can completely understand his frustrations. The Chargers are just that bad. Rivers is a good QB, but when he has no playmakers around him, it doesn't matter how good a quarterback is.
Me: Okay, so, what NFL news do you have, Jeff?
Jeff: Right now the only undefeated team is the Chiefs. They are 4-0. There are a five teams that are Owen Four. Three of the top teams from last year lost at home, the Patriots, The Cowboys and the Falcons all lost. The Bears are 1-3 so they are switching QB's to their rookie Mitch Trubisky. The biggest injury is the Raiders QB Derek Carr. This is the second straight year for an injury to Carr. Oakland fell apart last year, which is not a good sign for this year. But the Colts will be getting their QB back for the first time this year. You know, until Andrew Luck gets hurt. Again.
Me: So, Disney again has taken over another team... take a look...
Me: What do you think?
Jeff: At this point the Dolphins are playing like mermaids so it makes sense!
Me: Haha. Okay, so, how did we do last week, Jeff? Am I catching up?
Jeff: Yes, you are catching! I went Owen Two this week. You went 1-1. But the Steelers did win, and as you said the Giants lost so you gained on me a little bit. Right now the score is 9-4. Advantage: Me!
Me: Yay. Okay, let's do this week's pics... I say Cowboys win by 2 and Browns win by 1. What do you say?
Jeff: I'm going to pick the Colts by 3 and the Chiefs by 7.
Me: Okay, great job. I'll see you back here next Thursday. Have a good week, Jeff.
Jeff: See you next week.
Okay, and now for some sad news...
October 20th, 1950 — October 2nd, 2017
Gonna leave this world for a while.
Are you a lazy person? If so I bet you are not as lazy as the person that wrote this...
That is clever though. Okay, so, with the Las Vegas shooting last Sunday a friend of the Phile wanted to express his feelings about it. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. You know what time it is...
Good afternoon, phuckerz. What if I told you... everything you're being shown... is a lie ? Something's not right... it's all too convenient... almost as if it's been perfectly planned. But by who? That's the million dollar question. The shooter's brother looked in my opinion, to be sincerely shocked that his sibling did this. You can't fake that... I saw it in his eyes. The shooter has been stockpiling expensive deadly rifles, pistols and ammo since 1982. He was a millionaire casino gambler (or whale) who had holed up for three days with nobody seeing him with dozens of high end high powered rifles and thousands of rounds loaded into mags... when he only needed two rifles with a bunch of drum feeder mags handy. What if this was a staged crime scene? What if he was dead on the floor of a "self inflicted gun shot" before the mass shooting even started? What if someone else was already in there with him to be a second or third shooter? What if that person or persons were dressed like a SWAT breach team (for purposes of escape) in the ensuing confusion during the breach... and killed him before they themselves shot into the crowd? They could have blended in with LVMPD ESU team and been gone in minutes. This may be more than just an insane conspiracy theory. If you honestly feel that the left OR the right aren't capable of perpetrating these type of deeds in order to false flag an agenda... then you must also believe that the figure in the grassy knoll when JFK was killed, was simply trimming the hedges. But hey... what do I know? I'm just some crazy old bastard from New York... BTW... if I unexpectedly turn up dead under "mysterious circumstances" in the near future you'll know why. School's out, my freaky little darlings... keep your eyes and ears open. You're missing a great deal while you're all so busy watching what they're showing you.
The 67th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...
Phile Alum and author will be the guest on the Phile next Thursday. So, ever have deep thoughts when you're showering? I do...
There are currently millions of formally dressed skeletons living under the surface of the earth.
This is so freaking cool... today's pheatured guest is a British singer-songwriter whose latest self-titled CD is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Robyn Hitchcock!
Me: Hey, Robyn, it's so cool to have you here on the Phile. How are you?
Robyn: I'm here. I'm good.
Me: I have to say, I love the songs "Live Is Change" and "Love Is a Drug" you did with Emma Swift. She's a great singer for Australia... I need to get her on the Phile as well. Is there a whole album of that stuff on the way?
Robyn: Not at our rate of progress, we managed two singles. It's very difficult for us to work together on anything. We're a couple and we just about deal with what order we deal with stuff in. In working terms it's extremely difficult. She works on things very slowly and I just chuck stuff out. And what we like is very different too... the sort of sound we go for. She likes things quite sparse I suppose and I tend to clutter things up. But I think what's really good about it are our voices. We are both lead singers so we've actually been doing quite a lot lately with songs we are probably singing better then we did on that record that Norman Blake very kindly recorded and produced. He did manage to get us there doing it so that's an achievement.
Me: Wow. I didn't know you guys were a couple. Did you both write those two songs?
Robyn: They're songs that I started and Emma finished them which is the easiest way of of putting it. They certainly turned out very differently from if I finished them. They're probably more beautiful as a result. In Britain it has come out on green vinyl... I've always wanted a green record and here it is. So, thank you, I'm glad you liked it. It's good. Hopefully Emma and I will be able to come up with something in another few years by which time she would have done her next record and I would've probably churned out lots of stuff.
Me: You seem to be on tour a lot, Robyn, and put out a lot of music. So, do you do a lot of writing on the road?
Robyn: If I'm on my own I do. I don't know... Em sort of makes notes at various times. I think I probably do but I'm never aware of it. I look in the notebooks and I see I got all these lyrics I have no memory of writing. Now they are cropping up on iPhones. So, yes, it's a constant percolation.
Me: You must be prolific with capturing lyrics in bits and pieces because you have released a shit ton of music... over twenty albums. Am I right?
Robyn: Yeah, well, I like something to show for my time. And possibly I should've released less and spent more time honing what I do like Nick Lowe. I always feel like I'm Nick's psychedelic little brother.
Me: Haha. I actually got to interview Nick on the Phile for the 1000th entry.
Robyn: Who did? How was he?
Me: He was great... I could of asked him so many more questions, but I ran out of time. Do you know him?
Robyn: Yeah, he's a lovely chap. We are sort of friends. We actually were neighbors in East London for many years. I feel like musically he came of age before the Beatles. I came of age as the Beatles hit. So his songs got a sort of element of 1959. I don't feel that the fabs altered his molecular structure. He loves them as well as I do but whereas my musical DNA is completely based around the Beatles. I haven't done anything or written anything that one of them wouldn't of written or considered of written at some point.
Me: Apart form the Beatles, who else did yo listen to, Robyn?
Robyn: I love Captain Beefheart and Syd Barrett and the Incredible String Band, and the Doors and all that lot. Essentially how I put a song together, the harmonies I chose all of that is Beatle descended. I think of the Beatles as an academy that had three original professors and then spread outwards and is now there is all these people like Andy Partridge, who you should interview, Elvis Costello, and myself from that generation. Someone like Catherine Williams who have been in that school... went to Beatles school. You hear it in Radiohead or something, you hear the minor six come through. Not that the Beatles invented the minor six but it's something they all did. "Life is Changed" sounds to me like a John Lennon demo or a George Harrison demo from the wasteland of the 70s.
Me: When you write is it a daily practice or do you have to make time to write?
Robyn: No, I always feel guilty about writing. I do it instead of doing administration... what I call E.L.A. (Essential Life Admin). Or Electronic Life Admin. Em and I spend a lot of time doing E.L.A. and that's our job, and I write songs as that's what I do for kicks. But actually what I'm supposed to be doing is accounts or emailing people or something like that, like paying the bills. It's like Lennon and McCartney slagged off school as they out it, to go write songs. I feel much the same and this end of life even. I have never sat down with a guitar and thought, "well, I better right some songs. I have a record contact." Things like writers block is just unknown to me. Who gives a shit. A) Nobody needs any records and B) I've got enough songs stockpiled to come long after the apocalypse. I'm planning to have myself made into an app on the iPhone 13 so that while I'm no longer current in human form the Robyn Hitchcock song would go on writing itself and updating itself. It's my attempt to be the Academy of Robyn Hitchcock or spawn it. It's the attempt to transcend time or something, which is one of the main functions of art. Past the baton. We live and die but our culture carries on and adapts and mutates like a virus. One of the joys of being an artist is that you can contribute to this while you have personally turned to dust with all your friends and enemies. So, yeah, I'm aiming for the big one.
Me: I read somewhere that you said you are a seasonal writer and you don't write a lot during the winter months. Is that true?
Robyn: Yeah. I always thought that. In the early days I'd looked for patterns and I think gosh, I don't think I write between October and May. But there's periods when I knocked out 8 songs in January, but there's periods when you get bugs on trees in January and the frost gets them. In the harvest time, the autumn, is the probably best time. I haven't written anything since the new record came out in April. I don't need songs... my live act if I didn't play anything after 1990 they'll just be as happy. I'm an oldies act, like it or not. Like Bryan Ferry, or McCartney or even Foghat. Everybody's an oldies act except Dylan because he's so perverse. He's there because what he did 50-years-ago. But the paint doesn't dry on Dylan, and the old songs become shapeless. So if you want a good performance out of him it has to be something from the last twenty years. His old songs just don't mean anything to him. That or he's so jealous of them he has to fuck them up. I don't know. If you go see Bryan Ferry you are going to see him do a rendition note by note of "Love is a Drug" or "In Heaven Dream Home a Heartache," still hitting the notes. Or McCartney being the Beatles. And with me, I put in new songs, but what resonates people the most is older material. It's just been around longer. Same if I hear a song from 30-years-ago or before it just hits in a different way.
Me: With your songs, do you come up with the music first on a guitar or piano or lyrics?
Robyn: Oh, yeah. That's there thing... that's why I'm so old school. I play a bit of piano but there has to be a piano around to play, whereas I've always got a guitar. So, I play the guitar and either something comes to me or I open one of my notebooks and actually sing through them. I write down what key it's in. I've long given up trying to record demos. If I can remember the tune the next day it sticks, if I can't it's gone. We were listening to Radio 2's "Pick of the Pops" and they were doing run downs with 1968 and 1988 and regardless of the quality of the songs what was interesting was the stuff from the 60s were all sings that were obviously made up on guitar or piano. The vocal was also very big and essential, you had the vocal and a bit of snare drum and some guitar and strings or whatever. The vocals sat there like a bird in a nest. Then 20 years later the songs were obviously written on machines. They were written with sequences, and written to a click, keyboards and all that shit. The vocal is buried. The vocal is about a third as loud, and what you are listening to is the sound. People in different worlds, different drugs, different forms of entertainment. By then the listening public was on ecstasy. In the 60s they would of been largely drinking coffee, cigarettes, and a bit of weed. Maybe that had something to do with it. I was absolutely alienated by the way music writing went in the 80s and it hasn't really come back in terms of commercial music. There's a whole kind of Americana side show which Em and I both belong to, and neither of us would say we were Americana, because it's based around sitting there with guitars. hence another Jason, not you, but Jason Isbell or John Morland or people like Lucinda Williams whose been around for as long as I have, she's my age. Or Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings... particularly. It's like nothing that has happened since 1976 has made any difference to Americana. Americana in a way is the world before 1976.
Me: You are originally from London, but live in America now... where at and what's it like there?
Robyn: We live in Nashville and there's a lot of great musicians in the bars within walking distance from four music venues, and it's really good stuff. Musicians just roost on the fences there... you can just come by and see them, talk to them, feed them. And hire them, but it's all pre 1976, which doesn't bother me because I'm really pre 1970 I suppose. I think Em is Laurel Canyon in '72... she always says that's her. That's her epicenter, and mine is obviously 1966/67.
Me: So, are you creating the feeling of that era of music, Robyn?
Robyn: No, I'm not recreating the feeling of that because the feeling was very much of its time, and like all good zygotes it evaporated. But the style and musical approach I pretty much hung to since then.
Me: Is it a challenge to keep things fresh as you wrote so many songs?
Robyn: Surprisingly no, I think because I mess around with the tunings in a kind of coy way. I drop the B string down to an A and suddenly I've got a different sound. The new album has about two or three different tunings. I don't tend to play much if it live because the new tunings. "Mad Shelley's Letterbox" has new tunings, "Virginia Woolf" has new tunings as well. So, just to keep myself interested, keep the marriage fresh, you just put it in a slightly different costume. I'm still finding new chords, I'm still finding ways of playing E chords. I'm still fascinated by how much of a drone you could get on an A. Do you play guar like your dad did, Jason?
Me: Nope. But I do play kazoo. Hahaha.
Robyn: Oh, okay, you can't really mess around with the tunings on a kazoo. Ha ha. It just that's the way of keeping it fresh. I also change the strings very regularly so it doesn't sound to dead. Guitars are like computers, they have their moods. I sometimes pick up the guitar and there's something there and sometimes there isn't. I don't know what is is. Something might strike me...
Me: Occasionally you do covers, like on the last album "The Man Upstairs." That is not something you do a lot, right? Do you like doing covers?
Robyn: Well, they all have to be songs that I've wish I've written. With that record I wanted to make a record with Joe Boyd and I didn't have much material. But Joe was free and I was around for a variety of reasons Joe always said why don't you make a record that's half covers and half not, like a Judy Collins record he remembers from 1967 or something. He said do some well known ones and some not so well known ones. I did the Doors, and Roxy Music and I did a song by Grant-Lee Phillips and song by my Norwegian friends I Was a King. Then I put in five of mine I've just written. So, yes, if I cover a song you could be certain I wish I've written it, but I don't usually release them. Sometimes in the set I do my own songs and covers for an encore, going into my record collection.
Me: With your influences did you study them or did you just naturally get the talent?
Robyn: The latter... I just absorbed it. I don't really study anything. Things either take me over or they don't. I think all those entities I absorbed to the point they became sub-personalities. I would write a John Lennon song, or a Syd Barrett song... I've written a lot of Bryan Ferry songs oddly enough. I wish I could sell them to him. I mean they aren't exactly because they're me and probably have lyrics in them that those people wouldn't have used but in terms of the feel, what I think of as the musical feel you could see which sub-personality I was channeling when I wrote that song. Sometimes I think there's no me at all, I'm just a Peter Sellers figure and just full of other people. I'm not aware of having a style, or a sound but if I am a collection of other people it's people like so, even if I'm just a venn diagram or something, that's what I am. The DeNiro of songwriting.
Me: Haha. You mentioned Andy Partridge who you said I should interview... if you can make that happen it'll be fucking amazing. You know him, right, you actually wrote with him. What was that like?
Robyn: Yeah, I'll make it happen. He'll be on the Phile soon. We both are good at starting things and not finishing them. We've got a cassette of six songs that we've started. we just kind of misfire, we didn't see each other. He thought I lost interest. The thing is I tour and I live by touring. Andy won't play live and so he makes his money by royalties and other stuff that he does. So, it means he's mostly at home in Swindon or in his shed and I'm mostly somewhere else. Now I don't live in Britain anymore but I'm hoping we can intersect and finish some stuff off. But we both come up with ideas very fast. I'm not very technical, I mean I sort of know what a minor sixth is but I could be wrong. I'm not embarrassed by knowing the names of the chords but I could be wrong. He's great to play with, he's a very smart bloke. We're the same age... we've listened to the same stuff.
Me: Do you get on a role and write songs quickly or do songs hang around for a long time before you get around to finishing them?
Robyn: Once I've landed a song, they're pretty much like catching a fish. Either you caught it or you haven't. You don't tend to catch half a fish and the rest of it wold come through some months later. But I can tell there's a point where I know when I've got a song in essence, but it might take a long time to finish it off. There's a song called "Adventure Rocket Ship" on "Ole! Tarantula" that I spent about a year to finish that because each verse is a little bit different from the other one. It's complicated in a really fiddly way. I did work quite consciously on that. I want things to just come through in a smooth, slippery way. It doesn't want to be like pulling a cat out of an exhaust pipe. It's good if it flows, or sings naturally. Who knows? It's like tuning a radio in the old days when radios had dials. It's the phase of the moon, or what it is when the reception is clear it comes through and other times it doesn't, or it had come through before and I just repeat myself. I often sit there and think my gosh, I've just rewritten "Rock'n Me" by Steve Miller or I've just rewritten "I'm Not in Love" but not quite so well.
Me: Do you give up on any songs, Robyn?
Robyn: Yeah, I have to. I "abandon" quite a lot. I think the worst thing is when I realize I should abandon something and I keep hauling a song out and never finish it because it's not worth ever finishing. Sometimes I could say what point in tis song am I losing interest... why am I boring myself? Sometimes I can actually graph one song onto another. David Rawlings is good at that... finding bits of songs and sticking them together.
Me: So, I didn't mention Soft Boys yet, your old band, as I didn't think you wanted to talk about that old band, but how is writing songs now and everything to when you were in that band?
Robyn: As I've got I've interfered with songs less. Listening back to Soft Boys songs I felt like I should start something new every 30 seconds. They almost are like a series of edits to kind of keep myself interested or keep the band interested I sewn all these things together which was almost an exercise in wow! Look what we sew together. Look what I can come up with. Look how these guys can make it work. They're exotic pieces to be sure and probably a bit of the Beefheart school in there. Andy Partridge and I are both big Beefheart fans. Except his stuff was really formalized chaos. Who knows who came up with those original notes but somebody bullied somebody else into learning them all. What we did was much gentler in the Soft Boys. About 1990 I suppose I realized I could write a song on one chord and that was quite satisfying. It's quite interesting... If you're going to have a long song... it's quite interesting... Bob Dylan's long songs... I haven't listened to the most recent of his own compositions, but some of those are very long. "Desolation Row" is the same tune for 11 minutes and it works because of the repetition. If you had an eleven minute cycle of music with lyrics it would be really hard to listen to it, you'd have to keep stopping. To make it flow it's more like classical music. If it's going to be long it really needs to have something that is quite simple. Maybe if there's a lot of changes you need to make it quite quick. It's just what is kind to the ear... we've all got different ears so what will work sonically for me may not work sonically for you or many other people. That goes for the music I produce... I produce music that I would like to hear. I don't listen to my records once I make them. I don't anticipate other people reactions, I don't think the boys and girls are going to love this one. This is going to get them grooving in Sully Hole... it's actually a response to my own esthetic to put it pretentiously. I like this sound therefore you will too. So, my records appeal to the 389 people who have similar tastes than me and they probably have the same record collection.
Me: So, I love the titles of your songs... do they come first, Robyn? Like from the new album "I Pray When I'm Drunk," and "Sayonara Judge." I wrote songs for a music project called Strawberry Blondes Forever and I pretty much came up with the song titles first.
Robyn: Yeah. I sometimes write lists of titles in my notebook and then I'll pick them out and sing them. Although "I Pray When I'm Drunk" I wrote the song and gave it the title after. The thing with titles is to just come up with a new one. I did write a song called "Heaven" because there has been two songs called "Heaven" I liked. One by The Psychedelic Furs and one by Talking Heads. They came out within a couple of years of each other and I thought I'll have a go and make up a song called "Heaven" and mine wasn't bad either. But it depresses me when people use cliches as song titles, or if I use a title that somebody else has used before I think it's a bit week. I like "I Want To Tell You About What I Like" because it sounds like a saying, but I don't know if anybody else has said it.
Me: Okay, I love your electric guitar playing, Robyn, on the song "I Want To Tell You About What I Like." Do you prefer acoustic or electric guitar?
Robyn: I'm a pretty good acoustic guitar player, I'm not an electric virtuoso, nor do I want to be because that's a sort of redundant pathway really. It's like vein able to throw a pineapple in the air and then skewering it on a sword. It's a great trick but how much of a use is it. But playing acoustic I love and spent my life playing it. It had been fifty years last March since I got my first acoustic. I can't remember a time when I didn't play the guitar. I dread the last day when I'll play my last A chord like one day you'll have you last orgasm. It's a rather terrifying though, right? I live through the acoustic guitar and I'm not necessarily known for that either. That's what occupies me as much as lyrics.
Me: Have you ever written any songs for other musicians or singers?
Robyn: The only person who wanted to cover any of my songs is me. I did, I wrote a song for Kelly Hogan who sings with Neko Case and John Wesley Harding, she's based in Chicago. She got a deal with Anti Records and she asked a load of different people to write songs for her like Andrew Bird, John Langford, and Wes... mostly blokes but she wrote one song herself. She asked me and actually used my song as the title track, "I Like to Keep Myself in Pain." I actually did write that thinking, "okay, what would Kelly sing?" It'd be interesting if I knew somebody's work, could I kind of figure out what might suit them. But people don't ask. My stuff is you kind of have to be me to sing it.
Me: The very first song I heard of yours was "Balloon Man," which was on a "CMJ" magazine compilation. I liked that song, Robyn. I read somewhere that it was offered to the Bangles at one time. Is that true?
Robyn: Oh, I did. Good job. I know why. Because Kimberly Rew wrote "Going Down to Liverpool," which is a great song and I thought "oh, okay." And I wrote "Balloon Man" and I thought maybe I can sell this to the Bangles because I didn't imagine myself doing it. I didn't write to for them but I thought maybe they'll do this. They said it sounds just like Mr. Creosote from Monty Python. Thanks, Robyn. But it was a radio hit in the states. It did very well on the wireless. I was indeed walking up Sixth Avenue eating a falafel and it started to rain and I had a vision of the collapse of world capitalism as the gunk spread over my face. As I walked back into the lobby of the Iroquois Hotel, which was the down market rock hotel of those days on west 44th and our sound man who was from Finland said, "What happened to you?" And I just said, "Oh, Balloon Man got me." Again it popped into my head and remembered... and I wrote "Balloon Man" on the Isle of Wight ferry.
Me: That's brilliant. Thanks so much for being on the Phile, Robyn. I hope you will come back again soon. Go ahead and mention your website and take care.
Robyn: Thanks very much, you are welcome. Robynhitchcock.com. I'll make sure Andy does the Phile, Jason.
Wow. That was great. That about does it for this entry of the Phile. The Phile will be back on Monday with comedian Alysia Hush. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.
Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker