The Chain Letter Interviews: SXSW Pt.I

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Permanent Collection

At last year’s CMJ, we launched a new format for our fest interviews: the Chain Letter. To keep the chain unbroken at some of the country’s largest gatherings of great bands, we ask each band we talk to give us three questions to ask the next band, who proposed their own for the following band, and so on. Shit gets weird, and secrets are revealed! Check out the inaugural trilogy in New York, and welcome to the first installment of the SXSW edition.

Our first link clicked outside of Austin on the last stop in our Imposition Tour, New Orleans, with San Francisco’s Permanent Collection. A race to the death promptly ensued between Impose and Permanent Collection as we high-tailed it down to Austin for a sunny dose of southern comfort with Nashville’s Bad Cop and Natural Child after Bad Cop’s set at Barbarella on Thursday.

Permanent Collection

After their fragrant set in a Big Easy coffeehouse, Fine Grind, San Francisco’s Permanent Collection dried off on the balcony with us to take a break from the tension of the road and focus on the 80s’ hottest ladies.

So where are you guys from, and how did you get together?

Jason Hendardy: Two of us are from Oakland, and two of us are from San Francisco, and San Francisco is dead – just to put that out there for everyone.

Megan Dabkowski: It’s a Google office building person metropolis, so if you love that kind of stuff go there. If you don’t, don’t. Or go to the Sunset, best part of San Francisco.

Jason: Us three have known each other for a long time, and then we bought [Brenden Nerfa] on the Internet.

For how much?

Brenden: Like five bucks. I came in this box, and they opened me up one day, and I grew really fast. They stuck my feet in water…

Megan: We met working at a hot dog stand, which is kind of funny. He was the driver, I was the vendor, and it was a hellhole. We would just bitch about how we hated our evil boss. Fuck you, Stanley Steamer. Yeah, I said it! [Laughs]

Jason: And everybody knows Mike. Classic Mike.

Mike Stillman: Yeah, we’ve just known each other since high school and always talked about playing music, finally got it together, but it took awhile.

What’s your favorite song to striptease to?

Jason: “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper [All laugh]

Megan: Yeah, Cindy’s the best. She’s got a great range. I would probably be “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” by Rod Stewart. Classic striptease.

Anybody else?

Brenden: It could be silent for all I care. [All laugh]

Mike: Yeah, I don’t need a song to make it look good.

“I’ll strip to anything” is what that sounds like to me. If you were going to invent your own instrument, what sound would you be trying to make?

Jason: Eagle cry.

Brenden: Eagle cry/pterodactyl noise.

Megan: It would be the sound the BART train makes when it goes underneath the bay.

Jason: But mainly eagle cry, we’ve been doing that a lot.

Brenden: It’s like an eagle cry as you flush it down the toilet.

Megan: Brenden does the best eagle cry!

Brenden: I don’t do fucking eagle cries, I do crow calls! There’s a fucking difference.

[Peer pressure ensues, but Brenden refuses to demonstrate his crow calls.]

Brenden: I have to, like, see a small animal that I want to pounce on or something.

Okay, I’m disappointed, but last question: if you could choose to be any other musician, alive or dead, who would you be for 24 hours?

[The group huddles for a moment]

Brenden: We’d probably be Snoop Lion. Post-finding himself and all.

Megan: It would be like Snoop Lion, Jason. Ice Cube, Brenden. Dr. Dre, me. Missy Elliot, Mike. [Laughs]

I would watch the shit out of that super group. What three questions do you want to ask the next band?

If you had to fight any other band, who would you want to fight?
What is the best WrestleMania match that ever happened?
Marry, fuck or kill: Tiffany, Cyndi Lauper, and Sinead O’Connor?

Who would you choose from that marry, fuck, kill?

Jason: I’d marry Sinead, fuck Tiffany, and kill Cyndi Lauper.

But wait, I thought you were going to strip-dance to her music?

Jason: It could be like a victory dance after I kill her. Stripping and blood!

Bad Cop

After we made it from New Orleans to Austin, we found ourselves firmly in the South with Nashville rough-rockers Bad Cop. Frontman Adam Hoult and bassist Mike Gicz make the kind of tough-and-tumble boys-club tunes you might expect from a city with gritted teeth, but they also play a larger part in their scene as two of the three-man record label, Jeffery Drag Records, and know how to make a good impression on a bouncer.

So living in Nashville has a pretty big influence on you guys?

Adam Hoult: Definitely on me, personally. Nashville is a very nice town, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also very dark in its own way. It’s a southern town with a lot of very hard Christianity, and there’re billboards that tell you you’re going to hell. It’s got a dark vibe. And I think a lot of the pain people experience there create this beautiful art. Everyone on the outside talks about Nashville like it’s the new Seattle or something, but Nashville looks like a big ghetto. There are nice parts, but for the most part it’s pretty rundown. And just the vibe there…there’s a lot of people struggling. We have a really high poverty and homeless rate. There’re so many homeless people in Nashville. Every corner you go to, there’re five people selling newspapers, you know?

The vibe’s a little eerie, but I think that’s why it creates a lot of good art – because of the pain. People feel such a strong emotion, they have to let it out, and music is the best way. At least for me. I guess I’m speaking for a city, but at least for me. Someone else might think it’s the brightest place ever. It’s like this ying-yang thing, good/bad. Because everyone’s been through shit, though, you meet a lot of cool people – levelheaded, and…I don’t know. It’s a great city.

Mike Gicz: Pretty much sums it up. [All laugh] I’m from Virginia Beach, like, the most normal place in the world. I’ve been in Nashville for about eight years now, and I love this place. I will never move back to Virginia ever again.

If you had to fight any other band, who would you want to fight?

Adam: Wavves or Tyler the Creator. You can tell neither one of them have got beaten up cause they're so loud and suburban. I’d love to smack ‘em both at once!

Mike: I’m just going to be neutral.

Adam: He’s not a fighter. Neither am I, really, but if I had to, I’ll say it.

Best WrestleMania match of all time?

Adam: The video game was the best WrestleMania of all time. From Sega Genesis era. Or Hulk Hogan and that guy that would do the DDT on people – that shit was pretty cool because it was epic as fuck. I’m not a big wrestler either, so yeah…DDT guy, slam ‘em. That’s my thing.

Marry, fuck, or kill: Tiffany, Cyndi Lauper, and Sinead O’Connor?

Adam: Who’s Tiffany?

[I try for a solid five minutes to think of her hit single, “I Think We’re Alone Now,” but all I can remember is her dances move from the mall. Bad Cop continue to have no idea who Tiffany is.]

Adam: I’d fuck Cyndi Lauper. I’d kill Sinead O’Connor. And what’s the other one…marry her? I’d do it with a pre-nup with Tiffany. I don’t really know who that is. If there’s a pre-nup involved, sure. I just don’t like Sinead O’Connor. She annoys me.

Mike: I’d probably marry Tiffany, for the sheer mystique, cause I have no idea who she is. I definitely would kill Sinead O’Connor, for sure. [All laugh]

Adam: But hey, we’re just fucking around. If she ever reads this, we don’t hate you – we’re just teasing.

But you’d both fuck Cyndi Lauper. What do you expect that to be like? We counting on the fact that girls just wanna have fun here?

Adam: Yeah, I mean if anyone writes a song called, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” well hell yeah, I’ll sleep with her. [Laughs]

Mike: I imagine, afterwards, a bunch of girls will run in and try to have a pillow fight.

After you orgasm, everyone just jumps in –

Mike: Yeah, game on! Let’s go! [Laughs]

Adam: She would be adventurous, that’s my final answer.

What three questions do you want to ask the next band?

When you’re on road, do you carry baby wipes with you? And if they say yes, they’ll know why.
If you could go back in time, would you rather go to a Chuck Berry, Beatles, or Elvis recording session?
In the nineties, were you more into Three 6 Mafia and all the stuff coming from the South, or were you more into Nas and all of that? The right answer is Triple 6.

Natural Child

We stayed in the same corner of Barbarella’s back patio and talked to another Nashville act, but the vibe completely changed from bad boys who love pillow fights to the quiet musings of 70s-style longhair Seth Murray, lead singer and guitarist of Natural Child.

So considering this is 2013, you guys have a crazy old, down-home sound.

Everybody always compares us to the Stones, which is like…the Stones are one of the greatest bands that’s ever been. We love Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, J.J. Cale…We’re delving deep into some 70s country because we realized that’s kind of where rock and roll went. Rock and roll got kind of shitty right around ’73, ’74 and country was where all the badasses went to make music.

Do you aim to sound like the people that you get compared to?

Well, that’s just what we listen to. I think everybody sounds like what they listen to. We just don’t listen to any other modern bands. I can’t think of the last thing I’ve listened to that was recorded after 1979. We listen to music constantly, often when we’re all in the van together, so we’re all listening to the same thing, and it just comes out with that sound.

How did you guys find each other?

We’ve been cronies, hanging out in Nashville, for a long time. The legend, which is totally true, is that Wes Traylor tried pot brownies for the first time, and he called me, like, eight times, saying, “We’ve got to start a band together.” And every time I was like, “Okay, yes! Just stop calling me.”

When you’re on road, do you carry baby wipes with you?

[Weird face] No.

Do you have any idea why those guys asked me to ask you that? They said a touring band would know…

I have no idea. A lot of people wipe their ass with baby wipes, but I don’t know, I’m an adult. I’m not a baby.

If you could go back in time, would you rather go to a Chuck Berry, Beatles, or Elvis recording session?

Chuck Berry.

How come?

Well, I mean Elvis is Elvis, what’re you going to do for Elvis? I mean, honestly, all of those people have got to be some of the worst people to work with. The Beatles would probably be the most pleasant experience, but I would just want to be part of a Chuck Berry recording, especially later Chuck Berry. Chuck Berry’s self-titled from 1975 is one of the greatest records of all time. I would be on that. I’d be the shittiest musician on it, but I’d be on that.

In the nineties, were you more of a Three 6 Mafia or Nas fan?

In the nineties? I wish that I was either of those fans – actually, you know what, Nas. But now, way more Three 6.

Yeah, I heard that the right answer is Three 6. What made you transition?

I grew up. The first time I ever heard Three 6 Mafia was, like, 1996. I was getting a ride to school from this older kid that lived in my neighborhood, and he had some dumb tiny little sports car convertible thing that he drove 90 miles an hour in the three miles to school. And I remember he had that shit cranked as loud as possible and he was whipping around corners – shittiest driver ever – and I was so terrified. And, honestly, when I started listening to Three 6 again, that’s all I could think about, and that kind of made me into it. But in the nineties, I definitely associated Three 6 Mafia with being really scared, afraid for my life.

What three questions do you want to ask the next band?

What’s the best $20 you’ve ever spent?
What’s the worst place you’ve ever taken a shit on tour?
Have you ever seen god?

Follow the chain to find out how Brooklyn’s Weekend answers Seth’s questions, and for more with Shannon & the Clams, Colleen Green, Levek, Bunt Ones, and Warm Soda.