The Globes know a few things about school — and, more specifically — what to do when you’ve finished it.
After this quartet of young men graduated from high school in 2007, they wound up moving into a house in their hometown of Spokane, Washington, where they continued to do nothing but refine and work on their craft. Before long (and after a few off-shoot experiments that lead them to becoming the focused four-piece they are today), the group came across their sound, which is a powerfully moody evocation of mid-’90s alt-rock: strident poses mingling with serious hooks for a mighty good time (give a listen to the excellent song “A Stitch Couldn‘t Save the World“ to get any idea of what they‘re all about).
Now, with their debut album Future Self having just been unleashed upon the masses, co-songwriter Kyle Musselwhite sat down with PopMatters to discuss suicidal penguins, the long-awaited Wharf/Ewok fight we’re all looking forward to, and the ever-quixotic mystery that is belly button lint . . .
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1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
There’s a scene in Werner Herzog’s documentary of Antarctica, Encounters at the End of the World, where he’s interviewing this penguin specialist who’s been out on the fringe for a number of years and hasn’t really had any recent human contact. In his endearing way, Herzog asks the guy if penguins ever go crazy too. The specialist takes a moment and then says that sometimes for no apparent reason, there are penguins who will leave the flock and head inland to a most certain death. Herzog films one of these penguins its erratic plunge into the icy desert, explaining that there’s nothing anyone can do and it’s best to just leave it alone to pass. I didn’t cry, but I thought that if I was a person who could cry from a movie, this might be a good time.
2. The fictional character most like you?
Don’t know the character’s name, but I often feel akin to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in the movie Total Recall. This is a man who was trained as a special agent and has a vast array of skills and powerful knowledge, but who has been corrupted by his superiors and subjected to memory modification. As time passes, his previous reality begins to emerge, particularly in times of immediate peril. I too experience this sensation daily, wondering who I used to be, what kind of skills are emerging through my body, and if I will ever meet an alien babe with three breasts.
3. The greatest album, ever?
I will let everyone know when that happens. At the moment I want to say Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. It’s kind of boring and it really doesn’t sound that great, but it’s got loads feeling and I still find myself listening to it all the time.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars deeply affected my childhood. Star Trek has too much talking. I’d love to see a mash up of the two, something like Alien vs. Predator, but mostly Wharf fighting Ewoks. Now that would be cool.
5. Your ideal brain food?
When my brain is being nice to me, I’ll feed it something tasty like a piece of music, writing, or art. When it or I are being indecisive, we’ll go for the Internet which is like a giant piece of cake, dually wonderful and vile. Some days it feeds me bad things, so I reciprocate. The day it shuts up is the day I can finally get some things done, at which point I will be feeding it anything it wants, so long as it stays quiet.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
[See Q #20.]
7. You want to be remembered for . . . ?
My grandpa used to buy me ladybug chocolates and build weird sculptures out in the garage and tell funny stories and write nonsensical poems. At one point he wore long Indian braids. I thought he was a neat guy, totally in his own realm. Maybe someday I’ll get to live on in the mind of a little kid like him. Failing that, I can only hope that under some natural circumstance, something I do creatively might be important to other people.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Nokie Edwards has done a lot for me as a guitar player. Wendy Carlos showed me what it means to be a good technician. David Byrne demonstrated for me what it is to convey a piece of art or music through performance. My buddy James Miller got me to see how to create a good piece of art through dedication to the craft. Cormac McCarthy, Haruki Murakami, David Foster Wallace, and many others have told me stories I will never forget. Mankind (the wrestler) proves that physical limits are but a thing of the mind. I am a man in debt.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. I would hold it and look at it and say “Wow, I did that?” Then, I don’t know what I would do. In fact, I might not be around anymore. So maybe I wouldn’t want that, but I’m glad I get to admire it.
10. Your hidden talents . . . ?
I’m pretty good at sleeping. I can fall asleep most anywhere, and loud noises tend to be more hypnotic than distracting for me. I guess this remains hidden because I’m not usually conscious of it when it’s happening, though I’m not narcoleptic or anything like that, just sleepy. Also, belly drums. I’m pretty good at those. That’s hidden because I only do it in the privacy of my own home, usually after getting out of bed. Otherwise, my career demands exhibitionism.
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
As a youngster, I did not like getting clean. Fed up with her smelly little boy, my mother kindly advised me to take a bath. Now everyone likes me. Thanks, Mom!
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
Once, by accident, I pocketed some sour apple Big League Chew from a gas station. Nothing gets my mouth watering like that stuff.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . . ?
When I was 13 my friends and I bought fake fur from the local fabric store and we each put together our own personal loincloth with fur and twine. Now I’m a total square and I wear jeans, shoes, and shirts. Someday I’ll be 13 again.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
I’ve never been there, but I do like their crackers. You can put whatever you want on them.
15. Time travel: where, when, and why?
I wish I had time lapse vision or just the ability to see how things accumulate over time. This would help me solve some personal undying questions, mainly, where the hell does all this belly button lint come from? I want to see how lint travels over my body and ends up in my navel, cause it’s quite the fucking mystery to me. That aside, I’m pretty happy with my current time and place, but I would like know what kinds of things lived on Earth before I showed up.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation, or Prozac?
Stop what you’re doing. Take a nap. If it’s after five, you can have a drink. Otherwise, maybe just go back to sleep.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . . ?
I’m glad that most organisms on Earth have sex, I think that’s really great for everybody. I’m also really glad that I get to drink coffee everyday. That’s really great for me and those around me.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
Where I’m from, you city folk would call me a country boy. Where country folk are from, they’d call me a city boy. That puts me fairly close to the regional Cabella’s. If it were up to me, I’d be equally happy in the Big City living as a culture sponge, or digging for fossils in Wyoming. Seems like most of the time I’m just sitting in a car waiting to get to the next city.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
I would be honored if I could get the President to laugh. Just a chortle or guffaw. I would also love to play basketball with him; I hear he’s pretty good.
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
Still working on question #6. Also, writing for the Globes next album. Most importantly, getting signs ready for WWE Smackdown.