DS Exclusive: Mike Watt talks Jumpstarted Plowhards, D. Boon, songwriting on the bass, Eddie Vedder, and so much more

Up until the dawn of the digital music revolution within the last couple of decades, generations of kids found out about new music in three real main ways: by stumbling into music videos on the actual television, by scouring the new releases put out by known and trusted record labels (see: Epitaph, Fat Wreck, Blue Note, Apple Records, etc), and by finding out who your favorite artists liked and respected and toured with and diving headlong into that rabbit hole. I was twelve years old when first saw Pearl Jam’s video for “Even Flow” and was so captivated by it that…well…that I’ve continued to buy into whatever they’ve been selling for more than a quarter-century since. Because they’ve been more than vocal about their influences over the years, this meant exploring the catalogs of artists as varied as The Who and Daniel Johnston and Bad Religion and Cypress Hill and Fugazi and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and, thanks to the 1995 release Ball-Hog or Tugboat?, Mike Watt.

Ball-Hog or Tugboat? marked the first “solo” release for the founding bassist from both Minutemen and fIREHOSE, the latter of whom I only knew from having seen a poster for what would become their final full-length, Mr. Machinery Operator, hanging in the front window at Strawberries Music & Video at the Nashua Mall and not realizing that fIREHOSE and FireHouse were two different bands. Ball-Hog featured Watt supported by a diverse cast of characters that obviously included Eddie Vedder but also Dave Grohl and Pat Smear and Krist Novoselic and J Mascis and Frank Black and the Kirkwood brothers from Meat Puppets and Henry Rollins and Mark Lanegan and Flea and Kathleen Hanna and most of Sonic Youth and a bunch of others. It was ground-breaking and genre-bending and was really a perfect look into the future of what was to come for Watt’s career going forward.

If you haven’t been able to keep track of the sheer number of projects – or proj’s, as Watt refers to him in his trademark San Pedro patois – that Watt has been involved with in the years since, that’s no slight on you; it’s overwhelming. There’s Dos, a duo that featured Watt and ex-Blag Flag bassist (and eventually Watt’s ex-wife) Kira Roessler. There’s Unknown Instructors, which had Watt and his Minutemen/fIREHOSE drummer George Hurley joined by Joe Baiza, Jack Brewer and Dan McGuire. There was Big Walnuts Yonder, and Il Sogno del Marinaio, and The Hand To Man Band, and a bunch of years with The Stooges, and another proj with Novoselic and friends called Anywhere. There was obviously The Secondmen, followed obviously by the Missingmen. And honestly, there were a bunch more that I’m not going to pretend to have committed to memory right now.

Next up out of the chute from the iconic Watt is a proj known as Jumpstarted Plowhards. It’s a unique endeavor that found Watt team up with Todd Congelliere (Toys That Kill, FYP, founder of Recess Records). Watt wrote a handful of tracks on bass and sent a fifteen-song CD-R to “Todd Cong,” who not only wrote guitar lines and lyrics, but recruited a different drummer to play on every track. The first eight of those tracks now appear as a release called Round One that’s due out October 4th on Recess Records. Joining Watt and Congelliere are Hurley, Jimmy Felix from Toys That Kill, Patty Schemel of Hole fame, Brian Brunuk from Fartbarf, Trevor Rounseville from Clown Sounds, Jerry Trebotic from Watt’s Secondmen band, Raul Morales from Watt’s Missingmen project, and Neighborhood Brats‘ Nick Aguilar, who’s not only joining Watt on drums for his solo tour that kicked off last week, but who is also the son of a high school classmate of all three Minutemen (Watt, Hurley and, of course, the  inimitable D. Boon).

You can pre-order Round One right here, though jump on it because some options are already gone. But you can also head below to read our Q&A with the iconic Watt. It’s one of the more enjoyable conversations I’ve ever conducted for this here website, due entirely to Watt’s jovial nature and his willingness to talk about all portions of the long, strange trip its been since he and D. Boon met as thirteen-year-olds, picked up a couple of cheap guitars, and started jamming out to Creedence Clearwater Revival songs before even knowing how to tune their instruments. Also, head here to see where you can catch Watt’s current Missingmen incarnation out on the road, including an October 11th date here in the Boston area; it’s Watt’s sixty-seventh tour of more than a month! Thanks for being you, Watt!

Photo credit: Steve Linsley.

Dying Scene (Jay Stone): Thank you very much I really do genuinely consider it an honor to be able to talk to you. I’ve been a Mike Watt fan since Ball-Hog or Tugboat? – that was my introduction to the world of Mike Watt. So thank you. This is great.

Mike Watt: Right back at you, Jay. It’s very kind of you to want to talk to me. We put that out on vinyl a year or two ago! (Editor’s note: Watt is referring to “Ring Spiel” Tour ’95) Well, the gig that went around that record, which had Dave Grohl…

Yeah, yeah, yeah! I think I was just a hair too young to convince my dad to bring me to the Mike Watt, Dave Grohl, Eddie Vedder show, so I’m glad that exists!

That was a scary tour for me because I was standing in the middle, and it was the first time I’d done stuff like that. I leaned pretty heavy on D. Boon and Edward (Crawford, fIREHOSE) and Georgie…I got to have Georgie on the radio show the day before yesterday! (*Editor’s note: Head here to check out Watt’s radio program, The Watt From Pedro Show. It’s a wonderful listen.) He’s got a new project called The Wrinkling Brothers with this guy Joe Dean. It’s just drums and bass. I guess they’re going to start collaborating with other people. I’m going to play with them Sunday. There’s a gig in Santa Monica called (Liquid Kitty) Punk Rock BBQ. That’s the last gig before tour. A week from yesterday starts tour, and I guess if you count tour as anything over a month, it’ll be my sixty-seventh tour. 

I was planning on asking if you had actually counted how many shows you’ve played and with how many different projects. Because I feel like you’ve never stopped.

Yeah… (*both laugh*) I got into this to be with D. Boon; to be with my friend. But once it got going, I just didn’t stop. I just keep pushing.

So this upcoming Missingmen tour is number sixty-seven?

If you call anything more than a month a tour, yeah. It’s forty-five gigs in forty-five days, with Tom Watson. With Tom Watson, it’s twenty years that I’ve been playing now. The drummer, man, is about five months short of forty years younger than me! (*laughs*)

Really?!? Who’s playing drums on this tour?

Nick Aguilar. Me and D. Boon and Georgie went to high school with his father! 

Wow!

I think things are more open-minded now. Back when I was twenty-two, if I was playing with some guy in his sixties, there would have been something weird about that. But (Richard) Pettibone would take me to these gigs with Elvin Jones, Ray Brown, Max Roach, these old beebop guys, and they were playing with younger guys. It’s about time in the rock-and-roll world…you were talked about when you were born. A lot of that is just circumstance, right? It just happens.

Have you toured with him before? With Nick?

Nope. This is the first time. The regular Missingmen drummer, Raul Morales, him and Paloma had a daughter so he can’t tour anymore. He’s on the recordings and he does the local gigs, but he can’t tour, so that’s why I asked the big man here. The first time we played with him, he was twelve. His pop brought him to a gig and he played one Minutemen song together, and ten years later, I’m going to take him on a big-ass tour. 

Do you think that’s more nerve-wracking for him or for you? 

I hope it would be mutual! (*both laugh*)

I mean, maybe he’s too young to know better.

Raul and Paloma, like I said, had a daughter Sophia. I never had kids, but maybe me playing with a guy that’s younger, I’m kinda handing down things. Both of my sisters are teachers. Biologically, none of us three had children, but maybe in this way, our legacy gets handed down.

Absolutely. Like I said, I just turned forty, and in a lot of ways, you guys and your generation have handed down a lot of things and a lot of lessons and a lot of messages to people my age and a bit older and a bit younger as well, so you’ve been passing on a legacy whether it was genetic or not.

Yeah, I think there’s different ways to do it. Culturally, with expression. Biologically, by providing members of the next shift (*both laugh*). It’s a multi-layered thing. I think it’s interesting too to show people that the movement I got involved in in the ‘70’s didn’t die out! It kept going! If Nick Aguilar can be part of it forty years down the road, why not, you know? That’s kind of validates that it wasn’t just a strange version of Halloween, you know? There’s something to it. I think there might be something interesting for people seeing us both play together. Coming from the old days, it’s almost like you’re a relic, you know? But I think by playing with somebody from these days, it shows that you might be more than just a relic, you know? I’m just lucky I didn’t get killed yet!

 He plays with you on the new album, right? He does the first song!

Yeah! Jumpstart Plowhards! I’ll tell ya about this proj [sic]. Todd Cong [sic] grew up a couple towns over in Torrance, moved to Pedro in the ‘90’s. In fact, this whole scene developed that I didn’t even know about. Raul (Morales) was part of this, that’s why I put him in the Missingmen. I was touring so much…in the old days – in the Minutemen days – the Pedro punk scene was just us! It was tiny! Touring so much, I didn’t realize that people were moving to our town and creating this whole thing over on 4th Street and Gaffey. They rented a couple houses, and these guys were having gigs in their living room! Touring bands! Not playing clubs but playing what they called Porch Core! Todd, you know, I guess he was a skater when he was younger, but got involved with playing guitar and singing and got in bands and made this label, Recess Records. I did a Missingmen tour with him and Toys That Kill. Like, I-5: California, Oregon, Washington State a couple years ago. We’d jam, he’d join us (for the) last song, Blue Oyster Cult (“The Red And The Black“), the one me and D. Boon used to do when we were boys.

With D. Boon, I was always using the bass as a composition tool. With D. Boon, I never had to teach him. I would just play and he would come up with his stuff. After he got killed and stuff and Edward came along…I didn’t really know Edward. I didn’t grow up with him. It was a very hard situation. I did have a side band called Dos with K (Kira Roessler), and I gave him like Dos songs, just written for bass! Push forward to the future more, I was planning to do my first opera, Contemplating The Engine Room, a few years after that Ball-hog record you were talking about, although even with the Ball-hog record I would just show those guys the bass line, you know? It was kind of a test. Even with the title (Ball-hog or Tugboat?)…I thought if the bass player knows the song, anybody can come in there and play the drums and guitar and sing and stuff! (*laughs*)

So I tried this with Todd. I said, “Todd, I’ll write you fifteen songs, just bass, and you play guitar and sing. And a thing I’d like you to do is to have a different drummer for each tune.” And so he got this idea to do a 12-inch 45, which is probably the best fidelity. And we got eight songs; we’re gonna end up doing five of these, this is the first. You know, when I write songs on bass, except for maybe the operas, where I’m trying to tell a story, I really don’t have an end picture. They’re springboards or launchpads to get these guys going. And Todd really did, I thought he really did a good job. And yeah, you’re right, the big man (Nick Aguilar) is the first drummer. George Hurley’s on it. Jerry Trebotic, Raul Morales…four guys I play with are on it! Half the cats on this first record are guys that I already play with. That was him – that was Todd calling the shots there. I just wanted to get the journey going and see what he would do with it.

I just did a tour with Flipper, and I didn’t go straight home. A couple days at the end there I went to Plymouth, in the west of England, and a band called Tripper, I did the same thing. I wrote these guys nine songs, but I didn’t even play the bass; they have their own bass player and they all reinvented. The bass as a composition tool is pretty trippy. Bass Player Magazine asked me the future of the bass, and of course I wanted to say “thirty-five strings!” (*both laugh*) I think except for reggae and R&B, Jay, the bass is probably the last thing added to songs. So this idea of starting things with bass is kind of interesting. It doesn’t have all the harmonic content that a guitar or a piano does, but it’s got the rhythms, it’s got the starts and stops, even the dynamics, you know? But it leaves a lot of room for your collaborators. 

Yeah, and I’m assuming there’s a lot of different directions that people can go in…

Absolutely! Some people, like Nels Cline, they love that. Other people, it’s not enough information. They go “Well you might as well fucking write it on the kick drum or the cymbals!” You know Chico Hamilton – talking about old bee-bop and shit – he was trying to get credit for song writing, and he was told “drummers don’t write songs.” I don’t know if you’re familiar with this proj [sic] a couple years ago, Big Walnuts Yonder? I wrote these songs for this guy Nick Reinhart, so we could play with Greg from Deerhoof and Nels Cline, and he just called them bass lines, he didn’t call them songs! (*both laugh*) They had verses and bridges and intros and a coda…and he calls them just bass lines!

It goes back to D. Boon a little bit. People would call the lyrics thinking out loud. He thought what was political about Minutemen was him playing all trebly and leaving room for the drums and the bass. We were coming out of arena rock, right? And there was so much hierarchy with the guitar player, and of course he was working the guitar so it was all in his hands. Of course me and Georgie were into it. I learned first-hand, and you think “well, that’s just because it’s you and your buddies,” but you learn it can apply as a means of expression with anybody you’re working with. It’s just shaking up the deck. I don’t know how familiar you are with Toys That Kill and Underground Railroad to Candyland…Todd Cong [sic] has a lot of projs [sic], and a lot of them sound kind of similar. I think he broke out of a kind of thing…I mean it doesn’t sound like Yes or King Crimson or something (*both laugh*), it’s still got a lot of Todd in it, but it’s just a different perspective.

I think I can help that way. I’ve found there’s a bunch of different ways, Jay, to do music with people. You can take direction, like 125 months with The Stooges, or Porno For Pyros or J Mascis And The Fog or Tav Falco, or just recently with Flipper. They tell you “Watt, you take the part of the dead guy, and you play old songs.” Or, you can give direction, like I did with my operas. But I think if you’re going to ask people to take direction, you should learn to take it yourself. It’s about playing different roles at different times. You can do the collaboration thing, but there’s even different ways to do that! Like this one, the bass I gave Todd, that’s the actual bass that you hear. He actually recorded on my bass tracks! I gave him a click track, so he could know where the one was, and then the bass. And he played guitar, sang on it, had these drummers come in. It’s really interesting how we did it.

I feel almost like, when I make my own songs and my own recordings with my own bands, where I’m giving the direction, I put my name in the band name, so you know who to blame! (*both laugh*) “Like, Mike Watt And The Missingmen? Oh, HE’S the reason!” (*both laugh*) But if it’s not just me, like Il Sogno Del Marinaio, you think oh, he might be collaborating with these guys, or he might be actually taking direction! Even taking direction, like earlier this year, I did a tour with Mike Baggetta, a guitar player kinda like Nils, he’s out of Knoxville, Tennessee, and I wasn’t taking the place of the dead guy, and I wasn’t playing old songs. Like, he was writing songs for me now. So as I do these projs [sic], and the whole reason it’s even available, me and you getting do get together and do the Skype thing, is technology. It makes it a lot easier to collaborate now! I’ve made records with people I’ve never even met! (*both laugh*) It’s not like the old days, but you can still use ethics from the old days.

So the technology moves ahead but the mindset is still there.

Yeah, of course. I think the burden of being of creative should maybe always be a burden. That should never get solved! But the means…in the old days, it was all so dependent on bones; on monies. It’s a lot more econo now! And also, just the way of doing it, of being able to trade files, and being able to give a guy a bunch of songs written on bass, and then he can go do his whatever to it, that would have been a lot tougher when we were young Minutemen. 

Do you think (Todd Congelliere) would have felt free enough to edit what you sent him? Like, if you had a bass part, could he have said “you know, let’s extend this part or change the order of these things,” do you think he would have felt free enough to send it back to you, or did he really want to work within the framework you gave him; like, here’s this two-and-a-half minutes that Watt gave me, let’s create something out of it. Does that make sense?

I can’t tell ya exactly what was in his mind, but he didn’t change anything! (*laughs*) 

That’s fascinating!

The thing is, the bass got reinterpreted. Harmonically, it’s not full, so you can redefine it big time. You can make different harmonies, you don’t even have to play the root notes. And also, his riffage, I can see how a lot of times he counterpointed on me. It was like a blind date, you know? I think he was interested in it. He didn’t feel like “hey, I’ve gotta change this Watt.” It’s like playing cards where you get dealt a hand…he wanted to play the hand he was dealt, and in fact he wants to do gigs! I told him, “let’s do five of these. When we’ve got forty songs, I think the band will have an identity, then I’ll do gigs with you!” So I think he was into it!

What will you do for drummers if you take it out on the road, though? Could you bring a cast of like four or five different drummers and rotate through them?

When you were talking about Ball-Hog Or Tug Boat?, they call that my solo record, right? It’s got 48 guys on it! (*both laugh*) Some solo record! (*both laugh*) But I didn’t take 48 dudes out on tour. You’ve gotta be a little practical. Probably just one drummer, I think. (*both laugh*)

Did you have any idea who he was calling as drummers? Did you run through a list of names, like “so-and-so would be cool for this one, or Hurley would be great on this one”?

No way. On purpose, I wanted to let it go, Jay. Like, “Watt, you did enough. You fuckin’ built the launchpad, you built the springboard, let it go. Hand the baton over, you know?” There’s a lot of situations where I can call all the shots, but if I start doing that every time I do a proj [sic], it’s going to be like “I Love Lucy” reruns, you know? This week it’s mayonnaise, next week it’s pizzas, Oh Ricky, Oh Lucy. You know what I mean? I want these things to have a sense of adventure.

What I’ve learned — we’re taught as kids that being the boss is the thing, you know? But actually, I’ve found, being the boss, you can’t learn everything. There’s a lot of stuff you can’t learn being the boss. You have to play other roles. I think that’s what life’s about. Life is a stage, and we play different roles. We do. And I don’t think it’s that unhealthy; I think you can be probably more empathetic towards each other, you know, because you’re taking turns. That’s what really amazed me about the early days of the scene. I come from arena rock, I’d never been to a club before. I couldn’t believe the way that, you know, you’d be watching The Germs, and they’d be done playing and a few minutes later Pat would be standing next to you and you could talk to him. And then the guy that was just standing next to you, now he’s playing drums for The Bags. It was like, “what kind of scene is this?” It really attracted me. I had never really thought of it as a style of music, I thought it was just the environment was interesting and trippy, and people were going for it and it was kind of contagious.

So how do you keep going with that, instead of getting bored and jaded and thinking “oh, I’ve already done all that”? Nick Aguilar, Todd Congelliere, guys like that come into your life, (and you realize) everything hasn’t been done. In the same way you can make a very interesting novel without including one new word, you can use all the words everybody else uses and still make a very interesting book. This is what a bunch of years of being a punk rocker has taught me! (*both laugh*)

See, but it seems like you had that sort of mindset from early on. You seem like you’ve been the same guy – you’ve been “Watt” – forever. At least that’s my impression from the outside, you know what I mean? That’s sort of been the core of what you do.

Yeah, yeah! But also, the politics of this instrument. We’re kinda like glue. And glue without shit to stick to is just a puddle. It would be just “Watt The Puddle!” (*both laugh*)

Fair enough!

In reality, the politics of this instrument is that you look good making other people look good. I like that. It’s interesting. It’s the same with the drums, it’s a very narrow spectrum of the frequency, right? But it’s in a critical place! It kinda moves the body. You actually FEEL the bass. The closest thing to me on the stage, even though (the bass) looks like a guitar, is the kick drum, and maybe some of the toms. But it’s definitely not the guitar. (*both laugh*) I’m so grateful to D. Boon’s mom. I was twelve years old, I didn’t know what the fuck it was. The pictures made it look like a fucking guitar with four strings. That’s how I played the first couple years. I didn’t know that bass meant lower!

One of my favorite lines from We Jam Econo, I forget who even says it, but I think it’s Flea telling the story, about how in the early early days, you didn’t realize that tuning was a thing, you just thought some guys liked their strings being loose and some liked them tight!

Yeah, that was before the Minutemen. This is when we were boys, and we didn’t relate the tension of the string to the pitch of the note. When I met D. Boon, the only rock band he knew was Creedence, so we played “Down On The Corner” and it sounded right, and we thought we were in tune. We didn’t know that your “Down On The Corner” had to be the same as the real “Down On The Corner.” (*both laugh*) We thought some people liked their strings tight and some liked them loose!

That’s a riot! 

We didn’t know! It’s so much better now with accessibility. There was a lot of stupid shit in those days. It was more guarded; more closed up. You had to learn stuff by stumbling on it. We didn’t have older brothers. It was trial by error, for sure. But we also didn’t know this movement was going to come! It was really important to us, because the one thing we really fucked up with, and I can’t blame it all on us because it was just the reality of those times, but we never thought of using music as a way to express yourself. It was more about copying songs off records, like building models in your bedroom, you know? But you know, your’re with your buddy and you’re having fun. But this idea of “I’ve got some feelings I want to get out,” we never thought about it that way!

Really??

Yeah! There was something about arena rock gigs; we never equated us playing to that thing, but when we went to the clubs and we saw The Bags…I looked at D. Boon and the first thing that rolled out of my mouth was “we can do this!” It just fell out of my mouth, Jay! “We can do this!” These guys were just learning right in front of everybody, but it seemed like this stuff she was singing about, it was really important for her to tell us about it, you know? There was something about it, and it changed everything. I think us doing that stuff, copying the Blue Oyster Cult and Creedence, it kinda helped us become Minutemen, because we were a weird mix of things. Yeah, we learned from ‘70’s punk, but by the time we’re playing in front of people it was ‘80’s hardcore. People still tell me “man, the Minutemen were so different!” Well, we thought that was the idea! (*both laugh*) It wasn’t like “hey, let’s everybody be the same,” you know? Humans are a trip, man…

Sure! When a scene gets carved out, you know, look at the 8000 bands that copied that copied Ramones…when a scene gets carved out, everybody follows suit. You can exist for a long time carving out your own copy of the Ramones or the Clash, and there are good bands that still do it. But you’re right, when a band comes out of quote-unquote left field, which is what a lot of us got into the punk scene in the first place, because we felt a little weird or different or out of left field anyway, so when there’s a band that sounds different or weird or outcast, everyone’s like “well, what the fuck are they doing? They’re not wearing leather jackets!” 

(*laughs*) What’s that thing called, Hot Topic? The boss of the Vans (Warped) Tour, he’d have me play some of these gigs, you know? This is where like punk rockers are bringing their kids, you know?

I do know, I’ve done it!

They’d say “you’re gonna play the Hot Topic stage!” And I said “wow, man, D. Boon would have dug that!” And there was somebody else there that said “no, Watt, it’s not what you think. Hot Topic is where people buy punk clothes at the mall!” And I said “What!?!” (*both laugh*) It wasn’t about the hot topics at all! (*both laugh*) Pat Boone sold a lot more “Tutti Frutti” than Little Richard, you know? (*laughs*) I remember Little Richard getting asked about that, and him saying “well, his version is for the living room; my version is for the bedroom.”  (*both laugh*) There’s so many layers to this kind of stuff; like I said, you can write a book with not one original word and still have it come out interesting. It’s just trippy the way all these kinds of things come together. The point I was kinda trying to make is that I want to keep myself kind of relevant. To be born at that time at that place and to meet that guy – D. Boon – who met the Black Flag guy, and to put Richard Hell on my bass…I can’t be too self-important about this, so if I keep pouring myself into these proj’s [sic], I feel better about it. I’m not just the dead guy in the glass box, you know?

But I feel like you’re doing it in a way that’s also still authentic. I’m sure that there would have been ample opportunity for you to be able to copycat somebody else’s band or sell out or replace “the dead guy” in a huge band or whatever, but you’ve kept yourself relevant by NOT doing that. You’ve followed your own path in doing all these different projects. 

Well, and I have to tell you that the listeners and the gig-goers have been pretty open-minded to let me do that. I don’t think it’s me being a total hypnotist, you know? I think that movement set up a kind of culture where people are pretty open-minded. Way more than they were in those days. You talk to a young person today and they’ll talk to you about all kinds of music going 40, 50 years back. I was thirteen in 1970; me and D. Boon, the first gig we went to together was T. Rex.

Awesome!

Yeah, yeah! But then I look back at the other stuff, you wouldn’t talk about a band that was even like five years old, you know? So I’m not saying things are perfect and great, but I think part of the reason I get to do what I do is because of the listeners and the gig-goers and the kind of thing that was set-up. Like, me and you can start rapping about this stuff, where I’m wondering, in the ‘70’s, probably back then, it would have been harder for me to find a guy like you in those days, Jay. We’re twenty years different; almost twenty-two years different…in the ‘70’s, that would have been a whole Grand Canyon! I can rap about stuff that you can totally relate to, so there’s been some real changes that’ve happened in the last forty years! 

Thank God!! (*both laugh*)

Sometimes I hear young people…well, people that are more young; we’re all young people, just that some people are more young and some people are less young…but some people say “boy, I was born at the wrong time!” And I think “no you weren’t, man! You’re born when you’re born!” There was last shift, and hopefully there’s going to be next shift, but you’ve got this shift! 

Take advantage of the shift that you’re on, for God’s sake! Don’t lament it! For whatever reason, I stumbled into a lot of my early punk rock through the back door, when I was twelve, thirteen, fourteen years old through Pearl Jam. I was a diehard Pearl Jam fan from the time I was eleven or twelve years old, and so if Eddie Vedder said that something was cool, he was the arbiter, so that was the bridge between the alternative rock, the last bastions of classic rock, and the punk and indie rock scenes for me, anyway.

Yeah, Eddie’s a good cat. He’s pretty open-minded to a lot of music. Getting to know him, he likes getting at the essence of things.

Right. Well, I say “right” like I’ve ever had the chance to talk to the guy…

He was doing some solo gigs, and he opened up with  – we just lost Daniel Johnston –  and Eddie was playing “Walking The Cow.”

Yeah, I saw him do it here in Boston!

Did he open up with it?

Yeah, he did. Probably ten/eleven years ago now. 

Yeah, I just thought that was so great of him. In a way, he’s letting the people that go to his gigs know about Daniel Johnston, you know? That was really generous of him. The way he sang it, too…he sang it like he meant it. He’s sincere.


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