The Chain Letter Interviews Pt.III

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Wooden Indian Burial Ground, CMJ

In the final installment of our CMJ Chain Letter Interview series, we watched Wooden Indian Burial Ground go balls to the narrow walls in a skinny bar in Manhattan before stealing away to a more spacious dive for conversations about sex and politics (care of Psychic Twin). From the bar-time bro love, we motored to Brooklyn to sway as the all- girl neighborhood heavies, Heliotropes, swung their hair and stayed tough at the Paper Box before things got dirty with us round a cold table in a graffitied back room. And with a hint of sweet sorrow, the amiable Calvin Love gently separated the last link from the chain as he hunched over a portable coffee cup in the back of a Brooklyn café, all silver rings and slow smiles in the midst of a sunny CMJ comedown.

See Pt.1 and Pt.II of the Chain Letter series for the origins of Psychic Twin’s awesome questions, as well as Q&As with Chains of Love, Harvey Eyeballs, Beach Day, Mokaad, and Jack Ladder.

Wooden Indian Burial Ground

On the eve of Wooden Indian Burial Ground’s debut LP (out now on Mon Amie Records), the psychedelic Portland fellows patched together a last-minute tour to make their way to CMJ where they told us all about the dirty things they would do to Romney and shared tales of a wonder and genius man named Matt Laslo.

You’re pretty wild onstage, Justin. Is there anyone who inspires the spazz?

Justin Fowler: I would say Leonard Cohen’s live albums. He’s a chill dude with real mellow records, but then you listen to his live records, and he’s, like, screaming, drunk on red wine. He can be real mellow on vinyl, but real weird onstage. Tom Waits is another for onstage. I don’t like to see people onstage acting super bored. You gotta jump around. We also do a lot of improv stuff. We never do the same thing, ever, so a lot of the jumping around is locking in with each other.

Yeah, you guys don’t really face the audience. You face each other.

Perry Pfister: Yeah, I feel like it’s making it feel the most natural, as if we were just practicing.

J: We usually set up on the floor. Here, we couldn’t do it. I prefer being the same level as the audience. I like playing all-ages shows too…I’m, like, 32, and I like running around with 16 year-old kids.

Dan Galucki: I feel like it’s so much easier to connect with people when you’re right there, too, to get people into it.

Has anyone ever gotten TOO close to you guys?

D: Usually it’s the other way around.

J: Yeah, I’m like, ‘YEAH! Lick my guitar!’ I make other people uncomfortable.

Would you rather vote for Obama and have to have sex with Mitt Romney or vote for Mitt Romney and have to have sex with Obama?

D: I’m just gonna sleep with Biden, all the way, dude.

J: Can I just rub one out and not vote? [All laugh] I support voting, though. But not if I have to fuck a Republican. What about this: could I come on Romney’s face and vote for Obama?

I’m not sure if that counts, but I mean if he’s cool with it…

J: I’d blast him, and then I’d responsibly vote. I fucking hate Romney more than anything in the world.

So sounds like you’re definitely voting for Obama this year.

J: Yeah, I’m planning on voting for Obama and coming on Romney.

D: I’m planning on fucking Obama pretty soon. It’s gonna happen. [All laugh]

Just fit that into the tour schedule, a stop in D.C.

J: We actually just played there. We played a house show at the Paper House, a fucked-up house in D.C., and we met the congressional correspondent for about twelve stations or more: Matt Laslo. He’s the Hunter S. Thompson of D.C. We partied with him, and then he got us press passes for the next day and took us through the nitty-gritty of the fucking Capitol Building, like the places other people aren’t allowed to go. He showed us how the NPR sound booth is right next to the Fox News booth.

D: He’s a great dude. He’s a fantastic dude. He lives life to the hilt, as they say.

Rainbow Brite or Strawberry Shortcake?

J: Strawberry Shortcake, all the way. She’s pretty cute…not in a gross way.

D: Rainbow Brite’s cute, dude, come on!

J: I don’t remember, but I do like rainbows more than dessert, so…can I just take it back and say Rainbow Brite?

D: Jem. I’m gonna say Jem.

Where’s the worst bathroom on tour?

J: All tour bathrooms are awful, but yeah, I’m gonna say…mushroom poop in the woods. [All laugh] For the record. Psychedelic poop in the woods is the worst thing, man. Do some drugs, you don’t want to fucking poop. You want to hug trees and shit. It gets real dark, and then you gotta come back, get the positive vibes back. I’d just rather not poop, ever. If I could take away poop from my life I’d be a happy man.

What questions do you want to ask the next band?

“Shoop” or “Push It”?
Have you ever feared for your life on tour?
How many times have you masturbated in strange people’s showers?


A “truly modern” band, Brooklyn’s Heliotropes met on the Internet after guitarist/singer Jessica Numsuwankijkul posted an ad on Craigslist looking for musicians. “My ad was like, ‘I want to play some Brian Eno songs, and I want to do it with analog instruments and I think it will be great,’ and it ended up turning into this band,” she said. Three years later, the four ladies of Heliotropes played heavy tunes and may or may not have dressed up like Sexy Dictators this past Halloween.

Who do you guys get compared to the most? Given your style, I’m wondering…are they female or male musicians?

Cici Harrison: We get a lot of comparisons to Mazzy Star, but I think it’s mostly the vocals.

Jessica Numsuwankijkul: Which is great, I really like Hope Sandoval’s voice, but I would say musically, Mazzy Star is not an influence at all. Really into the Pumpkins, and stuff we listened to when we were twelve like Nirvana, but also early metal like Pentagram and, like, Black Sabbath. I like a lot of proggy stuff. I’m really into King Crimson and Rush and Pentangal and stuff like that, but I think that would only come out on our studio stuff, not our live stuff.

C: When we were growing up, I was playing the drums and I always wanted to be in a heavy band, cause that’s what we were listening to. Heliotropes didn’t use to be such a heavy band, but the four of us together…

J: It got nuts.

You guys are just finishing up an album, right?

J: Yeah, we just finished the tracks from our first albums, and we’re doing a lot of mellower songs than we ever played live. We probably won’t play them live. There’s, like, 60s love ballads and things with sax solos in them.

A: But also a lot of heavy stuff, too.

J: It’ll be mostly heavy, but like 25% other stuff.

C: I think there’s a song that will appeal to everyone.

J: So either it will be considered really unfocused or really, really diverse.

“Shoop” or “Push It”?

A: Three out of four Heliotropes prefer “Shoop.”

Have you ever feared for your life on tour?

J: Yes, when we were in Arkansas. Shit just got really dark. It was the first time I had ever taken 5-Hour Energy, and I didn’t realize it was like meth in a bottle, so I couldn’t actually concentrate on anything, and I’m a nervous driver anyway. So we were listening to the Twin Peaks soundtrack –

A: It’s the best soundtrack to drive to.

J: And then we fled from a hotel room in Little Rock, Arkansas because this girl came out with bed bugs in her hand.

A: And I was so freaked out, and I was driving. I had my glasses on. I was in my sweatpants, and I was like, ‘Let’s play something calm, play the Twin Peaks soundtrack.’

J: And we just got really scared. I don’t think we slept that night.

How many times have you masturbated in strange people’s showers?

A: Oh, that’s such a guy’s question! Only guys masturbate in the shower.

C: It’s hard to masturbate in the shower.

It is, it is…unless there’s a detachable showerhead.

[All agree]

J: I masturbated once in somebody else’s shower.

A: Was someone with you, though?

J: No. And I also got athlete’s foot. [All shriek and laugh] Yeah, it was a dirty shower.

What questions do you want to ask the next band?

How many times do you shit in a day?
Tell us about the last time you cried.
Biggie or Tupac?

Calvin Love

As the sun rose on CMJ weekend, we barely did, scooting out from under the sheets and over to Brooklyn to meet up with Canadian songwriter/producer/musician, Calvin Love. With his soft voice, Calvin put the smooth back into our Sunday step and answered us honestly about his bowel movements. So dreamy.

Talk to me a bit about what you’re making now.

This new record was done back in February. I did it in about three weeks. It was a collection of songs I built up over the years, and I just got them out. Some of them were new, some of them I’d written before and finally finished. It’s a combination between a very minimal set-up, just anything I could find, like a tape player in the alley or a synthesizer on Craigslist. Very cheaply put together.

I locked myself away in the wintertime, wrote all the songs. Couldn’t go outside, not a lot of light, but just went in there and got it done just in time for spring.

Do you think it would have been a different record if you made it during the summer?

Probably not because I had summer feelings in mind, thinking about a warm place.

Do you have a day job, or is this what you’re doing with your life right now?

I do have a day job. I’ve gone through several times in my life without jobs and whatnot, but I’m a painter. I paint houses and buildings and offices and stuff. Pays the bills. Needs two hands. It’s just me, paint, and the wall. iPod or the radio, don’t have to talk to people…Hopefully not a lifetime career. Though I am pretty good at it. I work for myself, work with my brother. We’re just thirteen months apart.

Do you hang out with your family a lot?

No, not too much. You know, it’s like, you see your mom for a bit, and after a week goes by, it’s like, ‘Okay, I’ve got to go. I love you, Mom, but…’ [Laughs]

How many times do you shit in a day?

Huh, probably, if it’s a regular day, about two. I’m pretty regular.

Biggie or Tupac?

Biggie. He’s got a lot of really good jams. That’s a really hard question…can I pick both? They’re both real badasses, hitmakers, millionaires…

Tell us about the last time you cried.

Damn, I don’t even remember. Probably some, like, wild time staying up late where I just had some kind of breakdown somewhere along the lines. I can’t recall any monumental times…

No recent heartbreaks?

Nevermind, yeah, I broke up with a girlfriend, like, two years ago. That was probably the last time.