TB: How many people have been in The Intelligence over the years? Do you miss any of them?
Lars: Jeez, so many...let me try to count: Dean, Mike (from Double Fudge), Min A-Frame, that was the original band after I did the fist single, that was a lot of fun. Jo Claxton, Karlis, Jed Mayhue, Erin A-Frame a few times, Dave Hernandez were next. It's funny, we kicked out Hernandez and six months later he was on Saturday Night Live with the Shins. Kimberly/The Dutchess, Matthew Ford, Min again was next, and that was when we started to actually try. I recorded 'Boredom and Terror' and they were really supportive. Calvin Lee, Nicholas, and Matthew, that was the 'Icky Baby' band and that was killer for a long time. Pizza King Dave Ramm (The Pulses), Trent (Popular Shapes/TV Cohran), Shannon (Fall-Outs/Pulses) were next, they were great but it was too weird after playing with people I was so close to. The chemistry wasn't right. Kaanan (Country Teasers) was a blast too, great sense of humor, maybe too good of a drummer for us, endless jokes and Ben Wallers stories. Actually, I thought it was more. I love and am still friends with everyone, most recently I miss Shannon, he turned me on to a lot of cool stuff like Joe Meek, the Dutch Outsiders, Los Shakers, he had a really great record collection and we were really in the same place stylistically. I actually refused his first quit and it worked for a while. I tried to get him back recently, but we don't make any money so I can't. We just booted "The Murderer" Perve Bird (Kurt Prutsman I know you are ego surfing), so many meltdowns in such a small bird. We drew the line at his stealing Crash Normal's sunglasses and using the last of the band money to rent himself a "pimp ass ride"/expensive town car to drive himself home from the airport.
TB: What is the current touring line-up of The Intelligence then?
Lars: Right now it's me, Susanna and Beren and we had this new guy who stunk, but he just quit in NYC two nights ago (And tried to come crawling back! His name is Matt Rafferty, if he's googling himself!) so it's just the three of us now. I'm trying to get Mikey Snipes from Blank Dogs to finish with us, Nicholas from Golden Traingle/American Deathray is doing these other New York shows with us. We almost had Jimmy from the Tyrades playing guitar on this tour, but it didn't work. Robert won't let him.
TB: Where in California are you originally from Lars? And what do you like most and least about living in Seattle?
Lars: I'm from Bakersfield, CA. The kind of town you either stay in forever or leave from as soon as you can. "The streets of Bakersfield is a great song". I miss it now though, because my family lives there and I sort of like the weather, but eighteen years of oppressive heat made trees and rain seem nice. I don't really like Seattle much anymore though. I'm tired of it and the winters are such a drag. The coffee's good. Mudhoney like us. There's some good things but I'm a lot happier when we're gone.
TB: If you could live somewhere else, where would it be?
Lars: We're planning on moving to New Orleans next year, but we just started talking about living in Paris for maybe six months or so. I'm really excited about that. but the dream is to live in New Orleans for the winters, and live in Seattle for the month that it's nice. I'd like to build a little studio there I think, just for us and bands that I'd like to record. Have babies, coach little league. Open an old movie theater and dance studio.
TB: What is your favorite European city and why?
Lars: I guess Paris is the best, I like cities the most anyway. I love that it seems like life there is you just go to a cafe and sit (all the chairs face out) and watch people. It's the complete opposite of life in Seattle where everyone is so isolated and geared towards creating this ivory tower with a plasma screen to live in. The people on my street would gouge their own eyes out before making eye contact when you walk by. But I really liked Arles too, a real tiny place in the south of France. Van Gogh lived there and died broke and destitute. We got this insane olive oil there you could put on a bowl of contact lenses and I'd eat it.
TB: What's with 'The Modern Idiom' cut-up artwork on 'Fake Surefers'? What inspired that? Was 'The Modern Idiot' a possible title? Jazz much?
Lars: It's this 10" jazz comp my dad got me years ago. And I stole the idea of the sticky type directly from Erin A-Frame. I figured he gave Soriano a pass on the first Los Llammarada record, so hopefully it's okay. It was just supposed to be for a German 7" that got lost in the mail and never came out, and I was really bummed because I thought it was kind of a throwaway but once it was gone I really liked it. Luckily it showed up when we got to Germany and I took it back. Can you tell the letter I's are like the Black Flag bars? Punk, huh? I liked that it's kind of confusing what the title is, I'm not sure where "The Idiot" comes from, just something the letters did while I made it. But we're definitely in Devo times. I like on the back there's some weird geometry problem I imagine some kid was figuring out while Woody Herman blew his mind. The poster is actually all sticky letters and cost at least 100 bucks and I had to go to every Staples in town to get enough E's to get it done. I'm sure there is a font on the computer called "random wavey block letters" but there was something nice about having all these 12" by 12" actual pieces. I think Larry called it "crazy person art". If you look close on the first or second page I used the inside of George Harrison's 'All things Must Pass' LP because I liked the orange in it and you can see the track listing.
TB: Mike McHugh and Chris Woodhouse: please discuss the similarities and differences of recording with each...
Lars: They are actually pretty similar. One's fueled by Diet Coke and one by cigarettes and food choices so bad it would make Dr. Oz commit suicide. God, they are both so good at what they do and so fun to work with since they are so good. They both have got really excited and invested in the stuff I was working on with them. They really are kinda similar. They have pretty different set-ups obviously, Mike has a studio but it almost seems like what Woodhouse might have if he could or wanted to. They both just really know their equipment and have that important love for simplicity and analog. I guess Woodhouse is Felix and McHugh is Oscar. If I have that right. I mean if Oscar is the grouch.
TB: What were the last three songs/records you listened to and what were you doing while you listened to them?
Lars: Last night I walking around listening to the Reverend Lonnie Farris. I don't know anything about it, it's something Monty Buckles sent me. It just this great mellow (I somehow can't bring myself to describe something I like as blusey...) haunting stuff. I heard Monty describe the slide guitar as kind of Santo and Johnny-ish. Maybe it sounds like something that Mississippi Records would put out. The drums are so absent-minded it's amazing.
The night before that, The Walkmen 'You and Me'. I've always liked them pretty well but this record is great, the instruments and tones and tasefullness they employ is inspiring.
The Spits new LP. IV. I love this record, by far their best. They have carved out a sound that is such their own and their hooks can make my hair stand up. We've been around them for years and for the first few years I went from not liking them to thinking they were okay to thinking they are the best band from Seattle.
Bonus tracks: The How 7". Matt Hartman from Sic Alps, I guess he wanted to do an early Who/High Numbers kind of thing.
John Coltrane, the song "Tranein' In" from the LP named after it. I can't stop listening to this song. It was my favorite song to listen to driving on tour.
Also, our friend Greg from Detroit found and sent me Opal doing The Doors' "Indian Summer" I'd been looking for for a long time.
TB: Name three bands we might not have heard of that we should look out for, new or old...
Lars: Man, have you heard Phil Phillips? The guy who wrote "Sea of Love"? I can't get enough of that stuff, I copied someone's CD that's some kind of comp of everything. The songs "Verdi Mae" and "Weeping Willow" are particularly great. The liner notes say the gas meter guy heard him singing in his house and convinced him to record.
I really like Bill Callahan, the guy from Smog. I think he's one of the most interesting musicians right now, particularly the song "Eid Ma Clack Shaw" but also "Faith/Void". His lyrics are so good it's upsetting.
Fatlip from the Pharcyde, the California rap group, his album 'The Loneliest Punk'. He got kicked out of the band for going nuts on blow ("I'm back again straight out the trash can"). Meters samples, rhymes about disappointing your mom ("I'm sorry mama, I'm irresponsible as humanly possible") and telling his baby's mother his son shouldn't be eating McDonalds and old ass spaghetti.
TB: Tell me about deciding to cover "Message of Love". It's such a great song to cover and it fit the Intelligence sound so well. Is the tape slowed down or anything on that recording? It's just something I really like...
Lars: I did that cover as a gift to Susanna. I sent her a tape in walkman when she was on vacation and it just turned into a 7" later...I argued with that nut Rocco (Disordered Records) about eberything from releasing two cover songs to what color blue the cover should be. Anyway, Susanna turned me onto them really, I though they wrote "Walkin' on Sunshine" so I stayed away. I heard that song at her house and thought it was the best, and asked "Who's that?" to her dismay. who doesn't know The Pretenders when they hear it? It took 300 takes to get the drums right, that's why I left all the stops and fuck-ups on the B-Side. I was worn out and it sounds so bad it's funny. I mixed it on an old tape deck and mine and Min's (who'd always does the "digital dumps" for me) don't match up, so it's possible that it's a little slowed down I guess, but I think it's just recorded kinda slow and bassy. I just played it real draggy.
TB: How did that French 7" with the t-shirt come about? Strange out-of-nowhere label there...It's crazy how their releases are paired with high fashion. Very French idea I guess?
Lars: They offered us $1,500 and 100 singles and 100 t-shirts and a bunch of expensive trench coats and jeans for two songs. Cheveu wrote me to tell me April 77 was lame and not to do it and I kindly told them to get bent (I love them). Lili Z did the artwork, I guess I didn't send them copies fast enough or something, but I've been excommunicated from Volt and now they sell t-shirts I sent them on eBay. I'd love to make up though.
TB: What's your take on cigarettes?
Lars: I accidently dabbled in them (rock and roll is so boring). It was one of the worst decisions I've ever made. Don't try them, they are filthy and they might call out to you for a long time.
TB: Talk to me about Lake of Dracula.
Lars: I never got to see them but I always loved the story of Min and Erin A-Frame going to see a friend's band and they were leaving as L.O.D. was settting up and they were dressed up and weird looking and Min and Erin decided to stay because "This will either be the worst thing ever or the best". They played at this weird restaurant that had bands and between songs they said "Table 9, your calamari is ready." We got to meet Magas the singer in Chicago and he said when he was in Couch he came up with the idea/lyrics to "Plague of Frogs" and the band would tease him and chant "Plague of Frogs, Plague of Frogs..." all sarcastic like. No wonder he couldn't wait to get out.
TB: How about those Oh Sees? I've heard people refer to them a "fake garage"...what's your take on that?
Lars: God, then I'd hate to hear "real garage". I bet whoever says that likes the Devil Dogs. The secret's out, when you see an Oh Sees show it's really the Mono-Men playing underneath the stage.
TB: What's the deal with 'Crepuscule...'? Was it recorded as a stand-alone record or was it stuff you had left over from other releases? How does it relate to 'Surfers'?
Lars: It's funny because I can barely muster any pride for any praise of that record when it happens, because it was so utterly careless in its execution. I had spent so much time on 'Fake Surfers' and was so proud of it, I was kind of spent. The Parisian label Born Bad contacted me about doing an LP and offered me some money and I just couldn't say no. I felt like such a creep starting work on it! But there were no expectations on it and after I came to terms with doing it for money (thanks to a pep talk from the great painter B. Eberhard) and after working kinda meticulously on 'Fake Surfers' in a studio it felt nice to be working alone at home with no idea how it would shape up. I just recorded constantly for a couple of weeks and it was done. So I sold out, it was easy and some people think it's our best so maybe that's why I almost block it out! 'Fake Surfers' is more like the baby you plan to have with your wife, and '...Pacman' is the estranged druggie step daughter who shows up aged fourteen one Christmas Eve. '...Pacman' wasn't planned and that's probably why it works.
TB: Fuck it. 'Crepuscule With Pacman' Side A - "My Ears Are Dust":
Lars: A really old song from around the first album. Looking for a job is worse than working, so lets do neither. Asking the universe to forgive you for this while your change swirls down the drain. It used to be called "Work" but I got the title from Brad from Wounded Lion describing a day of mixing. Dedicated to B. Eberhard for the bradvise and songs you send.
Lars: Song about a drag queen harbor ghost stepping out to haunt the town and tired of make up. Wanted to sound like an ugly Silver Apples but we have no oscilators, so it's a few of those white foot-long Casios. I lived in New Zealand for a year when I was 7 or 8, and I was trying to sound like driving around in a VW van in 1982 with some line from some weird song my Dad made up when we drove around the harbor.
TB: "I Walk In A Lonely Light":
Lars: Song about romanticizing being lonely when you aren't anymore. Wasn't it great? No. I think it might be ripping off and making fun of Portishead at the same time.
Lars: "All these planets and all these moons can't slow down what is coming soon. A solar wind is what depends if I can be friends with a sign like you." Is astrology real or bullshit? I think it's both. Or real if I have to pick ONE.
TB: "Sexual Sewer":
Lars: AKA "Run-Around Sewer". The line "I spew a little garbage on you fellahs..." is for Min and Erin A-Frame, it's from this Uncle Jim (Alan Bishop) track we'd always listen to, he says that right before a sax solo. I wanted to out Mayyors the Mayyors but Woodhouse has more brain cells.
Lars: The sweet relief of ditching a skumbag.
TB: "Horse Glue":
Lars: It had some guitar parts, but I took them out at the last minute 'cause I liked the piano alone more. A song about some nights being the realest time ever and evaporating into a worthless fog later. Your tough crew from last night won't help you move...
TB: Side B - "Crab In The Pipeline":
Lars: More surf music, it's easy to read people's minds who only have two moods.
TB: "Entertainment Centers":
Lars: I can't think of anything to say about this one really. Just kinda about how nice good entertainment is, the Monk documentary, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Eastbound and Down. The Country Teasers live, the Diving Bell and the Butterfly...
TB: "Crushed Up":
Lars: A song about that crumpled guy or girl you see at parties, where they're just crunched in a heap passed out and unnoticed 'cause they're always like that. I wanted it to sound like Amy Winehouse.
TB: "La Brea Tar Pits":
Lars: Larry Hardy took me on this great tour of LA once, and to the tar pits, and told me a story about seeing a bird landing in it and it slowly getting sucked down. And there was nothing anyone could do, they just had to slowly watch it become history. Also inspired by that "Ok fine, dinosaurs are real but they are new" evolutional church camp speech I saw a lady giving to little kids on TV.
TB: "Witch In Outer Space":
Lars: I was almost trying to make our version of a dub song. "There is a witch in outer space, I'm down here on planet earth running the smoke machine". A greek tragedy brought to you by Cingular. For some reason I was thinking about Jack and Lili from Volt while doing the drums.