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  • an interview i did with david fair:

    4 déc. 2009, 18h29m

    Kayla: I want to ask you first, what made you and Jad decide to start making music in the first place? Where did the idea for Half Japanese come from, and what influenced you?

    David: We both loved listening to music. We had a pretty big record collection. In the early 70s music seemed like it started to be all about guitar solos and bands playing in giant stadiums. It got kind of boring so it seemed like a good time to make our own. We were both visual artists so the idea of a band at first was more like an art project. We weren’t attempting to become famous musicians or anything. It didn’t seem the least bit important to try to play the way other people played. Thinking of it from an art project perspective, it never was about trying to sound like anyone else. It was about sounding however we wanted to sound.
    I was influenced by artists first of all. I liked the amount of work that Picasso produced and the nontraditional approach that Matisse used. I liked the marketing genius of Andy Warhol and the inventive and playful aspects of Alexander Calder. Musically we loved the energy and excitement of the MC5 and the Stooges. But since we weren’t attempting to sound like anyone else, those influences weren’t as important as the more “artistic” ones which promoted a desire to create.
    Once we started playing live there was a rock and roll influence that was huge for me. I read an article about Patti Smith. It was in Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine. It was very early in Patti’s carreer. I don’t think that Horses had even been released yet. But she said how much responsibility she felt for doing a good show. She said that when people come to see you, you are taking away an hour of their life...So you have to make sure that that hour is a motherfucker. I really identified with that comment and felt that if I needed to smash up guitars to make a more memorable show, then it would be selfish of me not to smash away.

    K: Why do you think Half Japanese was never became widely popular? For example, Charmed Life was a truly great rock record with songs that could have been played on the radio, but never were. Why do you think that is?

    D: I suppose it’s a marketing issue. We were told by one label that they weren’t interested in putting out our records because they estimated that they could only sell 50 thousand copies of anything that we did. So we’ve always been (for the most part) on fairly small labels. There are lots of things that I don’t understand in the world. Why most anything becomes popular would be high on the list


    K: Who thought of the name "Half Japanese," and where did it come from?

    D: When we started the band Jad and I were living in a big warehouse with a bunch of friends. It had been built to store motorboats during the winter months. The year before we moved in it had been a nursery school so it had a kitchen and a boy’s bathroom and a girl’s bathroom. (Although neither one had a shower). It wasn’t meant to be a living space so the landlord had it zoned as “commercial” or “industrial” or something. He was afraid that if it’s official zoning was changed to “residential” he’d loose money so we had to promise him that we’d name the building something and put it up on the billboard which was up by the road. We pulled two words out of a hat and named it “Bessie’s Paris”. We thought that it sounded like either a hair salon or a whorehouse. Shortly after that we formed the band. We decided to name it the same way. This time we pulled out “Half” and “Japanese”. We liked the way that it might seem confusing to the general public so we went with that. Plus we liked all the Japanese monster movies.

    K: For those who are unfamiliar, can you explain your philosophy and method for playing music?

    D: In the beginning it was just Jad playing drums while I played guitar or me playing drums while Jad played the guitar. As long as it was just one of us play notes we didn’t have to worry about matching them with anyone else’s. Pretty soon we added more band members who knew more about playing. I never thought that much about it. Playing ability seemed optional. It wasn’t bad to know it, or bad to not know it. A good attitude was much more important. My bands have always been made up of people who I wanted to spend time with. I would never add someone to a band just based on musical ability.
    I think of my playing as the same as Jackson Pollock’s painting. Some people think that Pollock was just throwing paint and anyone could do it. Some people think that he was an amazing artist.
    Some think that we’re just making noise. I think that I’m just making my own kind of music. Some people like it a lot and some think that it’s all a joke or that it’s the worst possible. Then it’s not for them. It’s a big world. I’m glad that there’s enough room for all kinds of music. I hope that the people who would like mine will find it, and I hope that the people who don’t care for it will discover some other kind that they like.


    K: What sort of projects have you worked on since then, and how are they different from Half Japanese?

    D: I tried to quit Half Japanese when I turned 30, because I felt that rock and roll belongs to the youth. It seemed embarrassing to see old guys doing it. I have changed that opinion over the years because I have seen young bands that don’t excite me and older ones that still do. And the other way around. I am forced to think that age is not a particularly important aspect. I have to go back to attitude as the key. But at the time I tried to quit. We played in Boston a few days before my birthday and I smashed my Fender guitar and poked the pieces through my marshall amp. I thought that I was done, but then our drummer left the band in the middle of a recording project so I moved over to drums and I actually enjoyed that even more so I hung around a while. I absolutely loved it and I absolutely hated it. After a couple more years I decided to form another band just so that I would have done something after Half Japanese and then I could leave it behind. I called it CooCooRockinTime. It was really all the guys from Half Japanese except Jad, who was in Europe at the time and we added in our friend, Charles Brohawn from my favorite band, The Tinklers. The idea was to record one album and then break up the band. No live shows at all. No second album. Somehow that has all changed. We have played out about a dozen times and we’ve started recording the followup album. Also a deluxe version of the original CooCooRockinTime album will be released in a few months. The entire album is being covered by six other bands. It will be insane. There will be seven complete versions included in the package.


    K: Who is your favorite musican to work with? And, if you could collaborate with anyone, who would you pick?

    D: I love the Tinklers. They both have joined CooCooRockinTime now. And the original big line-up of Half Japanese with Jad and me, John and Rick Dreyfuss and Mark Jickling is world-beating. The last couple years whenever Half Japanese gets together we also have John Moremen on guitar. I already am working with the guys that I want to work with. I recorded an album with my daughter, Harper when she was just learning to speak. I look forward to meeting new people as the years go on and I will enjoy doing projects with the people I enjoy spending time with.

    K: What are your favorite artists and records of all time?

    D: These are simply the ones that come to mind tonight.
    The Stooges, The MC5, The Adverts, The Pogues, Jesse Winchester, John Prine, Patti Smith, Modern Lovers, Temptations, 4 Tops, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Lord Invader, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Rascals, Bob Dylan, The Band, The Tinklers, Old Songs, SpiderCake, Kimya Dawson, NRBQ, Yo La Tengo, Van Morrison, Tom Waits, Howlin Wolf, They Might Be Giants, The Decemberists etc.



    K: In a lot of ways, music seems to have hit a low point. What's your opinion on recent music, mainstream and underground?

    D: I listen to the Blues a lot lately. Howlin Wolf is certainly the greatest blues singer who ever lived and maybe the greatest singer in general. He’s absolutely a top performer. But that’s not recent music. That’s music that I’ve heard recently. I don’t really know much about current music. I don’t listen to music on a radio and I am not the least bit interested in anything that MTV is offering. I think that maybe music gets exciting about every 8 years. I don’t care for modern country music and I don’t like the rap music at all. I can’t think of a mainstream artist that I’d want to see. I’m a lot more interested in underground music. I would love to see more alternatives. It would be great if people really had choices.


    K: What do you think it is that makes a band a good band? Are there any new artists who have caught your attention?

    D: Attitude and unique ideas. Attitude is the key.

    K: Where do you think music is headed in the coming decade?

    D: I hope that computers will know what I want to hear and send it to me in email attachments while I sleep

    K: And, lastly, where is David Fair headed in the coming decade?

    D: Jad and I are writing a tv show.



    Half Japanese David Fair Jad Fair
  • god, i can't believe i just did this... waste of time.

    27 nov. 2009, 0h32m

    questions about my overall top 50.


    1.How did you get into no.29?
    Jad Fair & Daniel Johnston - I liked Half Japanese, so... it was bound to happen.

    2. What's the first song you ever heard by no.22?
    Anbot Rodroid - probably "I've Got Robots"

    3. Whats your favorite lyric by no.33?
    Buddy Holly - "Everyday"

    4. How did you get into no.49?
    Devo - I don't remember. I think I just started downloading their stuff.

    5. How many albums by no.13 do you own?
    Pixies - I had Surfer Rosa on vinyl once. Other than that, I just download their stuff.

    6. What is your favorite song by no.50?
    Dub Narcotic Sound System - "Monkey Hips and Rice"

    7. Is there a song by no.39 that makes you sad?
    The Micropones - almost all of their songs make me sad.

    8. What is your favorite song by no.15?
    Neil Young - "Ambulance Blues"

    9. What is your favorite song by no.5?
    The Halo Benders - "Virginia Reel Around The Fountain"

    10. Is there a song by no.6 that makes you happy?
    Scratch Acid - "Damned For All Time" makes me happy.

    11. What is the worst song by no.40?
    Elvis Costello - haha, he has a lot of questionable material.

    12. What is your favorite song by no.10?
    Big Black - "L Dopa"

    13. What is a good memory you have involving no.30?
    The Beach Boys - I remember when my little brother got their album for Christmas when we were like... 8 and 9 years old. XD

    14. What is your favorite song by no.38?
    Jeff Buckley - "Lover, You Should've Come Over"

    15. Is there a song by no.19 that makes you happy?
    The Flaming Lips - "This Here Giraffe" :D

    16. Is there a song by no.25 that makes you sad?
    John Fahey - eh, not really.

    17. What is the first song you ever heard by 23?
    Animal Collective - I don't remember, but I do remember thinking "this is just a bunch of stupid people making noise.:

    18. What's your favorite lyric by no.11?
    Kimya Dawson - "and now there's a mountain goat, precariously balanced on the frog stuck in my throat. it says sometimes whispering's okay, but maybe you'd feel better if you screamed today." <3

    19. Who is a favorite member of no.1?
    Beat Happening - CALVIN, duh.

    20. Is there a song by no.14 that makes you happy?
    Tinyfolk - ALL of his songs make me happy. Especially "Love Is A Thing." :D

    21. What is a good memory involving no.27?
    Shellac - Uhhhhhh, not yet.

    22. What is your favorite song by no.16?
    John Prine - "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore"

    23. What is the first song you ever heard by no.47?
    The Beatles - oh god. how would I EVER remember my first Beatles song?

    24. What is your favorite album by no.18?
    The Moldy Peaches - s/t

    25. What is your favorite song by no.21?
    Black Moth Super Rainbow - "I Think It Is Beautiful That You Are 256 Colors Too"

    26. What is the first song you ever heard by no.26?
    Blonde Redhead - "23"

    27. What is your favorite album by no.3?
    The Jesus Lizard - Goat

    28. What is you favorite song by no.2?
    Sonic Youth - "Candle"

    29. What was the first song you ever heard by no.32?
    Bright Eyes - "At The Bottom Of Everything." Sarah made me.

    30. What is you favorite song by no.8?
    Daniel Johnston - "Casper The Friendly Ghost" or "Chord Organ Blues"

    31. How many times have you seen no.17 live?
    Nirvana - never :( :( :(

    32. Is there a song by no.44 that makes you happy?
    Dinosaur Jr. - "Start Choppin'"

    33. How did you get into no.12?
    Man or Astro-man? - I heard their tape in Peter DeGroot's car.

    34. What is the worst song by no. 44?
    The Vaselines - I like all their songs. :o

    35. What was the first song you ever heard by no.34?
    Sean Lennon - "Dead Meat"

    36. What was the first song you ever heard by no.48?
    Carpenters - probably "Superstar"

    37. How many times have you seen no.42 live?
    April March - never.

    38. What is you favorite song by no.36?
    Rapeman - "Monobrow"

    39. What was the first song you ever heard by no.28?
    Built To Spill - I think their cover of "Some Things Last A Long Time"

    40. What is you favorite album by no.7?
    Beck - One Foot In the Grave

    41. Is there a song by no.31 that makes you happy?
    Bob Dylan - "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" :)

    42. What is your favorite album by no.41?
    The Rezillos - Can't Stand The Rezillos

    43. What is your favorite song by no.24?
    Regina Spektor - "Sailor Song"

    44. What is a good memory you have involving no.46?
    Deerhunter - I saw them over the summer, and Bradford Cox stood next to me during Built To Spill afterward.

    45. What is your favorite song by no.35?
    Mill Race - "Riding The Root Canal"

    46. Is there a song by no.9 that makes you happy?
    Thurston Moore - "Fri/End"

    47. What is your favorite album by no.4?
    Half Japanese - DAVID FAIR!

    48. Who is your favorite member of no.37?
    Elliott Smith - so... Elliott Smith.

    49. What is the first song you ever heard by no.43?
    Tim and Eric - their theme song, I suppose.

    50. What is your favorite song by no.20?
    Lee Ranaldo - "Amarillo Ramp"
  • amazinggggggg music adventure things

    31 jui. 2009, 19h14m

    Okay. So. I thought I should probably write some things about my big adventures to Seattle and Portland. Because... it's important. So. Here they are.

    7/24/2009 (Friday) - First day of Capitol Hill Block Party

    I woke up early early. 5am. I rode my bike to the train station, and learned that all the trains to Seattle were sold out. Lame. I almost had myself convinced that I shouldn't go. But I got on a Greyhound bus at 8:30, scheduled to arrive in Seattle at 2:30 that afternoon.

    The bus ride was THE most disgusting experience of my entire life. It really really was. I got back on the bus in Portland and closed my eyes. And a couple minutes later, the stench woke me up. This guy was getting on the bus... he weighed probably 500 lbs, and smelled worse than anything in the whole world. I can't even think of anything to compare the smell to. And, to make it even worse, he was wearing a TINY shirt and TINY shorts. So everything was hanging out. And his belly and legs were covered in disgusting sores and pimples. A little while later, we stopped at some little convenience store in southern Wash., and he got off. I thought he was gone for good. I really did. But he came back, smelling worse than before. Because he had a bucket of fried chicken. So there was the smell of the guy. And the smell of the chicken. And he was popping his leg pimples. All the way up to Seattle.

    Anyway. I'm sorry to everyone who read that. I really really am. REALLY.

    I got to Seattle at about 3pm, and my day immediately got MUCH better. Obviously. I caught the bus to the house I stayed at, and then went over to Capitol Hill.

    Bands I saw on Friday:
    Black Lips
    Deerhunter
    Built to Spill
    The Jesus Lizard

    Front row, by the way. Black Lips didn't blow me away. Deerhunter totally blew me away. Built to Spill was incredible. The Jesus Lizard was just fucking intense. I'm still sore from that show. David Yow was crowdsurfing like a motherfucker, and... I didn't see it, but someone told me he was throwing razor blades around or something.

    After the show, I obviously had way too much adrenaline running through my veins or something. I decided I should walk back to where I was staying, rather than taking the bus or a cab. Bad idea. I went the wrong way, and got majorly lost for a long time. My phone died. I passed a REALLY scary black man in a really scary white coat. He reached in his pocket, and I was completely sure I was about to be shot to death. And, do you know what the two things on my mind were when I was about to die? 1.) I was pissed off that I was about to die when I was SO close to seeing Sonic Youth, and 2.) I was also pissed off that they would probably never catch the jerk who murdered me.

    I didn't get shot. I think that guy was just trying to freak me out. Asshole. :(

    So, I finally got back. And went to sleep. It was 3am. I slept until 7am.

    7/25/2009 (Saturday) - Second day of Capitol Hill Block Party

    I decided to explore Seattle on Saturday. But my feet hurt really bad. So I went downtown for a while, and then over to Capitol Hill, and I found a coffee shop to sit at for a really long time until I could go over to Block Party. When I got there, I found a cool, shady place to sit down where I could hear the music. Sonic Youth played that night. I was trying to figure out when I should start making my way up to the main stage. Because... I had to be up front for Sonic Youth. Duh. They played at 10:30. I went over there at 6. It was a smart thing to do. Because the closest I could get was second row, behind this guy with a really fat head. LAME.

    Bands I saw on Saturday:
    PELA
    The Thermals
    Gossip
    SONIC YOUTH!!

    PELA was really lame, I thought. The Thermals were great, the highlight being their cover of "Basket Case" by Green Day. All the hipsters were sort of looking around like "Are we too cool to sing along with this?" But everyone sang along. I like how there are certain songs that EVERYONE knows the words to. I'm glad that's one of them. Gossip was really good too! I was assuming I'd be really antsy through their set, waiting for Sonic Youth, but they were really really fun. Then. Sonic Youth. I stood in front of Lee. I was smasheddddddd between so many people. It was crazy. I wasn't even standing up, really, I was just wedged between all the people... It was fucking incredible. They played "Stereo Sanctity," and I freaked out more than I've ever freaked out before. Perfect. They played "Death Valley 69," too, which was THE song that hooked me on Sonic Youth. So. That was pretty amazing, too.

    I didn't get lost that night. I slept six hours and it felt amazing. I rode the bus downtown the next morning and got back on the Greyhound. The smell wasn't nearly as bad as it was on the way up, but it was still pretty bad. A rather large man sat next to me for about an hour... he smelled like stale piss. But I think I made him uncomfortable. Because I was trying to make him uncomfortable. So he moved. Thank god.

    When I got home at about 8, I was so wound up. I couldn't even go to sleep. So I sat around at a coffee shop for a while. Then I went home and sat around. And I guess I finally went to sleep at some point.

    I went to work on Monday. It really sucked a lot. I was tired and sore. When I got off work, I bought my train ticket for Tuesday morning. Because I was definitely not taking Greyhound again.

    7/28/2009 (Tuesday) - Sonic Youth @ The Roseland - Portland, OR

    Coolest day of my whole entire life.

    I took the 10:12 train up to Portland, and got into town at 11:30. It was INCREDIBLY hot in Portland. I walked to Powell's and loooked around for a couple hours, then pizza at Rocco's. I didn't know what to do. And it was really hot. So I went and sat outside the Roseland. Someone walked by me and asked if I'd heard about Thurston's thing. And I was like... "Thurston has a thing?"

    So I rannnnnnnnnnn over to Jackpot Records, where he was DJing. And I stood there for a while, amongst all the sweaty people, listening to the records... I was trying to collect myself so I could go say hi to him without freaking out. And I did. :o I was so surprised by myself... I went up to him and said hi, and he said hi, and I asked if I could take a picture with him, and he said yes, and I did. And I said "Thank you" and he said "You're welcome." And then I ran out really fast because I was freaking out a LOT.

    So I went back to the Roseland, and sat down, and made some new friends. We sat there for hours. Waiting. It was pretty rad, actually. A MILLION people asked us if we had extra tickets for sale, though. Oh, and I met this girl who's seen Sonic Youth 47 times, and wrote a book about it. Awesome.

    We finally got in, of course, and it was hotter than anything in there. My friends and I got our spot in the front row (in front of where Thurston would be... ha), and waited. Awesome Color played first. They were really good. They played for 30 minutes. And 30 minutes after that, Sonic Youth played theeee most incredible show I've ever ever ever seen. It was hotter than hell in there. Thurston's shirt was completely drenched, and sweat was pouring off of him. At first, I thought it was too hot to go crazy. But I went crazy anyway. My neck still hurts from going crazy there. And I haven't fully regained my voice. They played "Stereo Sanctity" and "Death Valley 69" again. And "Silver Rocket." And a million million million other amazing songs that made my life really great.

    ( Setlist: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/sonic-youth/2009/roseland-theatre-portland-bd641c6.html )

    Thurston told a Michael Jackson joke while his equipment wasn't working. That made my life really really great, too.

    I did not want to go back to real life on Wednesday. At all. But I did. And now I just want to go do more cool stuff. But I'm really poor now.

    XD

    Life is AMAZING.