1. Bert Man/ Crummy
So what do you get for a punk rocker whose family's history extends back to those dark days in Chile - sometimes called "the other September 11th" - when a CIA-supported military coup supplanted the country's socialist Allende government and installed the torture-happy Pinochet regime? I'm talking about Bert Man, of course - my first Straight interview with whom is here, and my second here - and you get him Ariel Dorfman's How to Read Donald Duck, equally of course - a rather famous book in the history of cultural studies, in which Allende's cultural advisor Ariel Dorfman and Belgian leftist Armand Mattelart decode the capitalist propaganda in Disney comics. I mean, a) there's not much else I know about Chile, besides the film Death and the Maiden (based on a play by that same Dorfman, and touching on the same hisotry), and b) it helped that it just happened to be there on the shelf at Carson Books and Records on Main Street, where I was hanging out shortly before the last time I went to see Crummy play at LanaLou's.
Anyhow, as the fates had it, it ended up being a strikingly fitting gift, because Bert was wearing a Condorito shirt - also a bird-themed cartoon character, but one that emerged from Chile. I had no idea about Condorito - it was my first exposure - but I snapped a pic of Bert in the shirt, holding the book - this one, actually:
So Bert, can you explain about Condorito?
Condorito is a cartoon condor very popular throughout Latin America. Kind of our Mickey Mouse but he is very much 'of the people.' His house has a corrugated tin roof with tires on it to hold it down. His pants are patched. He wears flip flops at all times, even when he is wearing a suit (court, funerals etc). He works a different job in every story. He strikes a chord with people.
Shortly after that gig, Crummy undertook a tour of Japan, which I haven't heard much about. Any stories?
Japan was one of the best experiences in a life full of great experiences. We toured not in a van but hand bombing our stuff on the Japanese trains. We had a first class rail pass for the long hauls (295km/h!) but the local stuff was done on busy Japanese commuter trains. No mean feat I assure you. We were trapped for a couple of days in Kobe because of the hurricane. We took the opportunity to eat back to back luxurious three course Kobe beef meals. We stayed in capsules, went to temples, visited Ochanomizu the Japanese guitar neighborhood. It was so good and we just got it under the wire before eveything went to shit. For that I shall be eternally grateful.
How is Goony doing these days?
The Goon is doing great . I work with him so I see him a lot. He was instrumental in booking the Japan tour and has been helping me a lot in bringing Crummy together into a viable project. Gotta love the Goon.
Was Mr. Chi Pig a figure in your life? What's your history with SNFU? Any stories you want to share?
We opened for SNFU once as the Strugglers. [Video here, I believe; Chris Walter was launching his SNFU band bio - which I helped proofread - and I'm pretty sure that Todd Serious was in the audience that night, which I think was my favourite-ever SNFU gig]. I met Chi in 90 or 91 when I was working as an attendant at the China Creek bowls. The young firebrand version. Very cool and approachable. He did 25 one footed nose 360s and blew my mind with his freestyle skateboard abilities. We were more aqcuaintances than 'to the bone' friends.
I gather you work in the restaurant biz, but either I've never known or I've completely forgotten what you do. What do you do? How is that? Do you feel camraderie with other foodie punks? (Willy Jak, say, who was playing bass at that SNFU show?)
I did spend a lifetime working in the restaurant industry to the point where I grew totally sick of it. As far as camraderie with foodie punks, a lifetime of working with food has led me to loathe food and eating. As far as I can tell it is linked largely to the fact that me working in the food industry is a direct result of my being unable to sustain myself playing music. My 'failure' at music if you will. Still, I appreciate greatly that I have a fabulous job that allows me to live relatively well in a time of hardship.
How have you gotten by through COVID? How did it affect your job? Was there any bad weirdness (dealing with the maskless or visibly sick?). What wisdoms have you gained from this pandemic (or are you still the same person as before?).
I kept working throughout the pandemic. My job involves dealing with at risk people with a series of challenges so there were many daily incidents haha. As far as wisdoms I've gained, sadly it was merely the realization that many of us are real selfish assholes. Some might say I fit that bill, fair enough. I'm certainly a flawed individual.
How have you used the pandemic as a musician - were you grateful for the time off to recalibrate and write and such, or were you really impatient to get back to it?
My playing improved 100% during the lockdown if not more. Many will claim that to be easy since I was so awful to begin with. Fair enough, they are not wrong, but over the last 6 or 7 years I have assembled a killer band. The next two songs we record are going to be the shit!
We talked about the apocalypse last time I interviewed you, apropos of the song "Apocalypse Blues" on Even If It Kills Me - do you feel like we're getting closer to it?
It takes my breath away and makes my blood run cold. I fear I do not have the strength to withstand the terrors that are most assuredly coming.
Is "Andy Warhol" still in the set list? Are there any new songs, or new covers, we should talk about?
"Andy Warhol" is certainly still in the set and we are killing it better than ever. We have a series of covers we cycle through. Most of them fall in the category of "Man it would be so cool to do this as a cover someday" - no "Mustang Sally" here. "Clones" by Alice Cooper, "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg," "Search and Destroy" by Iggy and the Stooges, "Hybrid Moments" by the Misfits. We do a pretty good version of "China Girl" but I guess that's a song that will be cancelled. Fair enough. I totally understand. Plenty of other songs to cover.
That interview with Orchard actually stemmed from my being amused by his tales on Facebook of of pre-gig nerves and bathroom trips. Is that a regular phenomenon? I kinda wish I'd now asked every major musician about their bathroom habits before a show. Did LEMMY get pre-gig nerves and have to go to the can? (He sure didn't SEEM like he would).
I am always very nervous before shows. I've been playing since I was 13 and still it happens before every show.
It evaporates as soon as we start the first song but it is something i can't escape. It is probably a little worse since I became sober because I can't preoccupy myself with drinking and c-c-c-c-c-cocaine.
2. Ed Hurrell/ Stab'Em in the Abdomen
One of these men is not Ed Hurrell (Ed with Eugene Chadbourne, shortly before COVID hit)
My 2016 interview with Ed Hurrell about the history of Stab'Em in the Abdomen (and his then-tenure in Pill Squad, before he was sent to the gulag) delves deep into his past, so I mostly focused on the upcoming gig and the weird circumstances around it (coming out of a pandemic, maybe?). And while normally I go through people's answers and edit'em up and add punctuation - I put at least five commas into Bert's stuff, above - Ed's kinda made a creative statement about the way he's answered my questions, so who am I to tidy it? (It would take a helluva lot more than five commas). Besides, this way he gets to correct ME, since I (as you will see) get confused about the lineup for this gig and that of another band he is in).
You will also notice that I doubled-dipped on a couple of the questions I'd asked Bert, but the ones I sent Ed were:1. What's the current lineup of Stab'Em?
2. What's your history with Terry? [I had heard that Terry Russell of Slow would be drumming for this show, but it seems like I was thinking of some other band that he and Ed are in, Rocket #9 - look'em up yerself!] Since leaving the country, coming back, and having all his possessions stolen... what are his current plans? (You're welcome to just forward that to him, if you like).
3. How has the pandemic treated you? How has the lack of live music affected you - did you get into doing other things, or...?
Here are Ed's answers, verbatim (because this is PERFECT and says more about Ed than my tidied version would. It'd be like adjusting Hubert Selby's paragraphs in Last Exit, or adding uppercase letters to an e.e. cummings poem):
Got that? Anyone who wants an opening slot for a Rocket #9 gig - and what a great name for a band - should either write Ed at his Facebook page or go see him at the gig tomorrow night at LanaLou's, where the food is good, the beer is plentiful, and the masks are few! (Turns out to be an ill-timed gig for me, since I will be visiting a purposefully unvaxxed senior citizen in less than two weeks, and can't risk bringing anything with me...).
Knock'em dead, Bert and Ed!
(Photo by Bob Hanham, lifted off Ed's Facebook page).