Elf Power refuse to slow down. In the wake of close collaborator Vic Chesnutt’s death in 2009, they recorded their eponymously titled LP, Elf Power, which was recently released via Orange Twin. Now on tour throughout the United States, the band took a moment to answer 20 Questions. Despite the grief over the loss of their friend, Elf Power appear irreverent as always, addressing CGI, salmon jerky, and other serious matters with marvelous flippancy.
1. The last book or movie that made you cry?
A friend of mine made me watch the movie Transformers and I cried in shame over the fact that I wasted two hours of my life watching that piece of shit. The CGI looked terrible, all these robots moving real fast and fighting; it was kind of a blur. You couldn’t even really tell what was happening, just a bunch of loud noises and blurry fast robots. I don’t like a lot of CGI…. Everybody gushed about how great Gollum looked in Lord of the Rings, but I would have rather seen a puppet on a stick or a guy in a costume.
2. The fictional character most like you?
Old Gregg, the scaly man-fish from the brilliant BBC comedy the Mighty Boosh. He’s a transsexual part fish/part man/part woman who lures fisherman down to his subterranean lair in an attempt to form romantic and sexual liaisons with them. Not too different from my typical Friday night.
3. The greatest album, ever?
It changes for me daily. Right now it’s Tonetta—777. Not much is known about this mysterious character, other than the fact that he is in his 50s, lives in Toronto, and has been home recording these great sleazy, lo-fi songs with funky basslines, distorted drum machines and a sometimes sinister, sometimes beautiful vocal delivery. Often the songs are sexually explicit in nature. He has lots of great videos on YouTube of himself dancing to his music dressed in various bizarre manners, sometimes in women’s clothing (or very little clothing at all), sometimes masked, sometimes covered in creams and ointments. He’s a great songwriter too, and not gimmicky either; he’s just a weird old dude who likes to express himself in a unique manner. It’s quite beautiful.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
I like the first Star Wars movie. I was just up in the mountains in North Carolina driving to a friend’s cabin listening to the song “I am Star Wars Today” by Smog. Great song. I love Smog and Bill Callahan, his last two records are the best things he’s ever done; a truly great singer/songwriter. I was sitting on the cliffs, looking down at the valleys for miles around in the middle of a thunderstorm, singing that song to myself as I ran for cover.
5. Your ideal brain food?
Salmon jerky! They have really good salmon jerky at Pike Place Market in Seattle. I eat like five pieces and it makes you feel insane, like you can see through walls and read people’s minds.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
Infiltrating a bizarre sex cult in Chicago. There was a bookstore for the cult Adidam around the corner from my house in Chicago when I lived there for a while in 2003. They gave me a book and I researched them online and discovered them to be a weird sex cult. I tried to talk my girlfriend at the time into going to a meeting with me but she refused. It turned out to be a pretty boring meeting; we just watched some videos of their guru talking the usual “God is Love” stuff. No orgies with young nubiles to be found. Then when they were trying to convince me to come back they told me that the singer of the band Live was one of their devotees. Live is my least favorite band of all time, so it was not a major selling point.
7. You want to be remembered for ...?
My role as the grocery store cashier who gets shot and killed by the evil robot in Robocop IV.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Henry Darger, the janitor upon whose death it was discovered that he had spent his entire life creating thousands of paintings and the longest novel ever written, all about a fantasy realm of his own devising. He is inspirational for his sheer dedication to creating a completely unique fantasy life and world of his own for his own enjoyment, with no ambition or desire to share it with others at all.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
Gaudi’s Parc Güell, a large public park in Barcelona that is a truly surreal and unique artistic landscape.
10. Your hidden talents . . .?
I can snake spit really far, especially if I’m eating a pickle or sour candy. Snake spitting is when you press your tongue against the roof of your mouth and activate the salivary gland beneath your tongue. I can spray someone from across the room. My brother and I used to have snake spit wars when we were growing up, so I had to get good, or he’d get me good.
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
Well, this is not really advice I followed but more learning by example. One time when I was growing up, Mormons came knocking on the door, trying to convert us to their wacky religion, and my dad told them we were Druids. They just looked puzzled and left. I’ve followed this method since then and it works every time.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
I stole hundreds of packages of Garbage Pail Kids cards from the 7-Eleven when I was in junior high. I got the first three series completed, and later sold them to the comic book store Bizarro Wuxtry in Athens, Georgia for a pretty penny.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .?
A full Body Glove wetsuit, Doc Marten half-sandals, and my dreads pulled back in a scrunchy.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
GG Allin’s ghost. Phantom poop might be a-flyin’, but that wouldn’t be so bad.
15. Time travel: where, when and why?
Dinosaur times so I could harness and train a pterodactyl, then ride him around. That’d be pretty fun I think.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
I’d give the hit man the Prozac so he’d chill out and lose the will to kill, and then take him to the spa, so we could hang out and work through his anger problems.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?
Cadbury’s fruit and nut chocolate bar is damn good.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
They’re both good for different reasons. I went to a massive underground sea cave in California recently. The echoes of the sea lions yelping sounded really evil and demonic, in a beautiful way. It was pretty amazing. I imagined myself coming there after the fall of civilization and leading powerful religious rituals.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
Thanks for speaking your mind in support of allowing a mosque to be built near Ground Zero. Come on America, Freedom of Religion. Ever heard of it? It’s what the country is all about!
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
Lucid dreaming, so I can fly around at will and cavort with all types of dream world/spirit world denizens. Unfortunately, usually when I start lucid dreaming it doesn’t last long before I wake up.
// Notes from the Road
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