Tim Rutili. Very much into dwarves.
Curiosity about crossdressing just means he wants to get over on himself.
And music he makes with others originally reeks: an atmosphere, new chicago
blues, a beauty, a rare thing, nothing to do with boogie chillin' in the
same way that John Lee don't play kora. A voice that's not quite
shredded hits the mic on a direct line from the back of a throat that never
touches his lips. red
red meat. Califone.
Lil' Tim at 1st holy communion w/
sequin'd man of the Lord
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1999 17:35:36
To: Lee Klein <email@example.com>
From: Tim Rutili <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Eyeshot interview
Records began in 1992 with your first album. Is that right?
released the 1st red red meat single on Perishable in 1990 (hot nikkety
trunk monkey / x-diamond cutter blues and molly's on the rag).
you put Perishable on ice to be on that major label (Sub Pop) for awhile?
Sub Pop seemed like a good place
to be. Same old shit. We wanted to tour and get our music out to the people.
The video work I was doing back then was done through perishable so it
was kept alive; it just wasn't an active record label.
listening to the first album recently. Right after the “hello hello” opener,
the bass kicks in percussive- aggressive, the drums hard-rocking. Were
the songs written to be played live?
We were a live band mostly and would
work out most of the stuff before we went in. There was occasionally some
stuff done right there but most of it . . . live.
an obvious amped charge to all the songs that must have come from live
Yes, also we were younger and more
into rock. We used to drink entire 4 ounce bottles of robitussen dm for
fun. I was obsessed with Sonic Youth. We also wrote more as a group. Built
songs together in the practice space instead of the studio. When I started
writing slower stuff everyone was a bit bummed out but we all learned to
enjoy it. I'd like to try to work out things live and try to play some
rock again very soon. Maybe the next red red meat record. The last few
shows we played were no toys and machines allowed. Trying to be a bar band
again and not ashamed of the guitar. It worked well and we all had fun.
There was one show last Halloween at the Empty Bottle and the next day
at the Metro. We had Rick Rizzo playing guitar with us and that helped
a lot. Made me want to get drunk and fuck.
On the Perishable
site there’s no tour-date page. It’s almost like you’ve retired to the
studio. Do you tour as much? If no, why not?
We all have
kids and it's harder to leave them hungry and fatherless. We did a Califone
tour for about a month last year. I miss playing live and sleeping in the
van. Almost everyday on the last tour someone sighted a dwarf or midget
somewhere. Usually at a rest stop or gas station in a rural, in between
place. I haven't seen a midget since then. It's time to get back. Next
year there will be new Califone and red red meat so I am sure we will do
I saw you
in Boston in 1996 or 1997: You blew away the dozen people in the bar.
2nd best place I have ever been to
see rude, loud people: a restaraunt in Boston's chinatown. Open all night.
We made sure to eat there after shows every time we went to Boston. Always
some incident. There was never any talking at our table because we were
too busy eavesdropping and trying not to stare. The last time we were there
a low-grade Italian gangster sat across from the owner of the resteraunt
and dropped "nip", "zipperhead", "chinky", and "not a fuckin chinaman's
chance" into every sentence. The owner hardly said a word and after an
hour-long insult session handed him a brown bag full of money. The
gangster says: "Do I gotta count it?" and left. All you can do is eat and
try not to make eye contact.
more space in your music now. There’s more slow exchange between instruments.
The guitar/banjo play equal parts percussion with the reverberating gamelan-like
clanks (on a steal-your-face painted bed-pan from what I remember?) The
bass is rounder and license-plate rattling deep. It’s all rich, often acoustic,
with circling feedback, controlled distortion. It seems like you slowed
down and opened the songs up. All notes hang and make a space. Tell me
about the songs “Paul Pachal” and “Just like an Egg on Stilts.” Instrumentals.
There were/are a lot of instrumentals going around Chicago. Whatcha got
I am sick of instrumentals. When
it's done right it's great, but these days it's almost never done right.
I tried to do some vocals for both of those songs but nothing seemed to
fit. Paul Pachal was a kid that Ben grew up with. One day they were playing
running bases and Ben whipped the ball with all his might right into Paul's
balls. He told the story right before that piece was recorded. Hurley even
grabbed a sample of Ben saying "right in the nads with a league ball" over
and over again. We were all still laughing when the tapes were running.
If you turn it up loud you can hear the laughing . . . Just like an egg
on stilts was how my friend Andrew described this drag queen called La
Chickie. We used to go every Sunday night to this Mexican drag queen bar
and drink and watch them fight. The best bar fights I have ever seen. It
was like hockey, no one would even try to get between them, I never saw
anyone thrown out, after a brawl the fighters would just walk away primping
to opposite sides of the room. La Chickie was like Danny Devito with a
boob job. She would get drunk by finishing the drinks left on the table
when you went to the bathroom (bathrooms here are unsafe). When you got
back she'd ask you to buy her another. She was the most amazing dancer
and one Sunday she disapeared and we never saw her again. The possibilities
are endless. She could be anywhere or dead. La Chickie was a good egg.
a few flashes where it sounds like what’s to come, the first album sounds
like . . . something. But everything since “Bunny Gets Paid” is your music
entirely. Even Orso has that same atmosphere eventhough you’re not on the
mic. I realize you play with other musicians. Did you all evolve naturally,
without much thought to it, or did one of you say . . .
Over the years we all kind of stretched
and grew into things. I don't think it was a deliberate thing. Finding
broken instruments, playing with garbage, new tunings, old microphones
and toys. Living in a self induced hole maybe I dont know . . . we all
enjoy patience, listening and reacting (or not) and leaving spaces . .
. awhile ago we provided music for a performance by Lawrence Steger. He
did pieces from the "in a fog" section of Huckleberry Finn and dramatizations
from the in-transit life of Andrew Cunanin. The performance was about writing
and trying to find the connection between Huck Finn fooling Jim into thinking
that he dreamt a storm and Huck's death while they were rafting up the
river and Andrew doing poppers and drinking getting more and more paranoid
by the second. He wrote this stuff listening to sections of Califone, Loftus,
and red red meat's "There's a Star Above the Manger" and we gave him edits
with no vocals and alternate mixes to use for his show. When I went to
see him do it I realized that, on a good day, we do the same thing with
sounds, words and music: try to take a few elements that are stuck in your
head that might have nothing to do with each other and search for the connection
. . . enjoy the ride and tangents . . . and if there is no connection
or payoff at the end it's ok. I am just starting to understand the last
5 years of my life now. Music and everything else. Some of it at least,
I think . . . hmmm.
red red meat in a greyscale holding
pattern at Midway
Meat bassist Tim Hurley worked as a doorman at the Rainbow, along with
all those musician/record company-owner bartenders. I was in Chicago visiting
a friend who lives a block from that bar, right around when Loftus was
just about to come out. I got a copy from a friend at Thrill Jockey. I
told him how I thought you rocked, one of the most inspired musicians in
town (as far as this one Jersey boy knows). He said you had spent the entire
day cleaning out truck after truck filled with pig fat. What kind of jobs
have you taken to support yourself?
Messenger, set decorator, music video
director, truck washer and scale operator, furniture mover, pizza deliverer,
record store lackey, worked at Touch and Go for 3 weeks in the return dept.
you think about generosity in music?
I'm lucky. I have good people around.
That makes it easy. It's almost impossible to put aside ego and self promotion
and just play . . . to make the song much more important than the people
involved. I have seen that happen a few times. I am lucky. You almost have
to learn to get out of the way and let the song build itself.
ever go back to hard drumming behind you/screaming murder?
Yes, I dont know about in the studio
but live it would be fun.
you bring some soul to the whole blip-and-click Internet contraption, and
that’s what I hope to do with Eyeshot. And by soul, I mean a pungent flesh
that burns a taste. Something like how your music sounds: plate tectonics
in flux, poltergeist whines, controlled jettisons. Ya follow me?
It's just the beginning. Scary to
think about all the possibilities and put aside the ugliness of computers.
I hate computers but Rob is here and he can do almost anything. We are
still learning. There is a good balance of people around here and that
will hopefully help keep our aesthetic in line . . . fear of machines is
still mighty strong in me. I love broken stuff like the way the casio sounds
when it's wet or right as the batteries are running out. We haven't learned
to do that with computers yet but Ii think it will be fun to toy with the
flaws when the possibilities don't seem so crippling. It's fun to imagine
these boxes old and cutting out in all the right ways.
a link to a Borges
on the perishable site. Did you ever read that story by him in which Tim
Rutili in the ‘90s dreams of a band called Pussy Galore in the ‘80s that
influences Exile on Main Street in the ‘70s. Have you read that one?
I had a friend
once who said he would give up his testicles to go into the past and see
The Who in London in 1966. I think if he would have been able to do it
Quadrophenia would have been about a mod eunech and his regrets.
lyrics cut through the intelligible on the 100th listening, they’re even
more elusive. That takes a gift. You ever write fiction?
I try to just exaggerate fuzzy memories
mostly. Subtract the events from the pictures and smells. I'd like to say
that it's all deliberate and I want to leave room for the listener to fill
in the blanks and attach it to their own memories but mostly I just enjoy
the physical properties of words and how they feel in my mouth and what
they trigger. And I am lazy and have a tiny attention span. I usually write
in big chunks and mine from it when I need words for songs. I try to jot
down a little something every day. I almost never let anyone read it. Maybe
are welcomed (unabashedly solicited) here.
If I ever have anything readable
sure, I'd like that. I can't spell and this computer is making me forget
everything I ever knew about grammar and punctuation..
we all need to know that we don’t? In music?
Smattering is this band from Minneapolis
that I am in love with. You can get their music at kingwho.com
In books? History of Luminous
Motion by Scott Bradfield is a good book. Other? Wow, I don't know.
suggest any links to the good shit? This will be online after all.
No suggestions just requests:
Herzog made a film with an all midget cast called "Even Dwarves Started
Small." If anyone can dub me a copy or knows where to find this let me
know . . . I'm also looking for that Jerry Lewis movie where he plays a
clown in a concentration camp. Supposedly he was at the height of a percodan
addiction when he directed and starred in this film. It might be called
"The Clown that Cried" . . . any clues would be much appreciated.
you mention that the title be for the upcoming Califone recording might
be either "Beneath the Yachtsman" or "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine Humping
a Camel in the Rafters" or "Back the Fuck Up" or "Sex Lives of the Blind"
or "The Last Generation Afraid of Machines" or "Twilight of the Yachtsman?"
Hmmm . . . . How about: "Let it be St. Augustine, Alive as You Are Me,
Back-Fucking the Shit out of a Twilight Machine?"
I like alive as you are me and back
fucking the shit out of a twilight machine . . . They'll go on the list.
"World Deceleration Record Vol 1" or "New Black Tooth" or "Rattlesnakes
Smell Like Split Cucumbers" . . . I have been reading a lot about Rome
lately. The working title for the next rrm record is the Golden Ass . .
. I think we'll grow into it.
e y e s h o t . n e t