Wire article on Crazy Clown Time

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Wire article on Crazy Clown Time

Postby davidchili » Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:42 pm

The UK music magazine has an article on Lynch in their November issue. Enjoy:

By Clive Bell

"I went down/To the football game./I went down/To the football game./What I saw/Was really a shame."

The guitar chords are massive, great down-tuned swipes of sound that hang around for ever, chords like blue velvet curtains. The drum kit is relentless, a tumbrel that keeps rolling forward.

"I saw you/With another man./You better run baby/I hope you can."

The singer's threat is reflected in the ominous overall sound, but it's a simple set-up: just two people in a room, conjuring menace on guitar and drums. A darker, more hellish White Stripes. So who is this doomed man at the football game, stepping out of a Diane Arbus photo? He spits out the initial F of "˜football' repeatedly, in a strange, constricted voice. Down the phone to Hollywood I ask David Lynch (for it is he) if there's something in his mouth.

"Right, that's probably chewing tobacco."That's really chewing tobacco? "Yeah. It might be."That's a way of altering the voice, isn't it? "Yes, exactly. You want to do anything you can to keep from sounding like yourself. Really, that's probably what it's all about."

At 65 years of age, Lynch has released his debut album. Not a collection of lyrics voiced and orchestrated by others, but songs hammered out à deux in his home studio, alongside his close collaborator and engineer Dean Hurley. Karen O from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs performs the opening "Pinky's Dream", and Hurley contributes drums and additional guitar, but the rest is Lynch himself, wrangling a postTwin Peaks guitar into submission and singing his own lyrics. So how does his songwriting proceed?

"Well, I started playing guitar only because one was there,"Lynch recounts, "and I wanted to see what sound effect I could make on it. But in making sound effects with the guitar a deep thrill went into me, down into my soul, and I loved working that thing, even though it's not in a traditional way. And I work with Big Dean Hurley, who's the engineer in my studio. I built a studio to experiment with sound. I've always loved sound since the time I started making films. I worked with one of the great, great, great sound designers, Alan Splet, in the early days, and I always wanted to experiment. And then I met Angelo Badalamenti [composer on Twin Peaks], and he brought me deeper and deeper into the world of music. And Dean and I jam, and out of these jams sometimes comes something that is making us very happy."

Lynch's speaking voice is remarkable, a slow-paced, full-bodied drawl, cordial but halfway to a shout. For each song on Crazy Clown Time he's found a specific singing voice, almost like casting a film. "Good Day Today"is processed into a higher octave, a weird falsetto; "Noah's Ark"is a fierce whisper in the dark, a singer afraid to speak, let alone sing. A Laurie Anderson-style harmonised chord holds the prose of "Strange And Unproductive Thinking"in place, as Lynch's monologue rambles between the forest and the dentist's chair. Overall, the album is a gradual reveal of the voice itself, and by the time we reach the whining, confessional lines of "Speed Roadster", he has certainly hit his stride: "Guess you could say I mighta been/Sort of/Stalkin' you, baby."

It's all part of the improvised experimentation in the studio that so excites Lynch. "You know, the guitar can have many different sounds,"he enthuses, "but say you find a sound ' and lately Dean's been on the drums, so he finds some beat and that beat will make me play a certain way, and that sound of the guitar probably will make Dean play a certain way. And the thing starts cooking, and maybe it doesn't go anywhere for a while, but then something can happen and whoooah! A new thing is found ' new to us anyway!"

Sometimes Lynch brings lyrics to the jam sessions. And then there's the choice of voice. "The beautiful thing about today's world,"he muses, "there's so much that we can do to alter anything, the sky's the limit. And so I think what it's all about is to try to get all the parts to live together in a way that feels right for this particular song. And that includes the voice. You know, I've heard so many songs that hold promise, until the person starts singing. And there's nothing wrong with the person's singing, but if they could bring in all the plug-ins and do some experimenting, that voice would start getting closer and closer to the bed, and marry with it. And dreams could come out of that, a beautiful thing could come out."

All this is not so far removed from crafting the sound design in a film, he explains: "You try to get the sounds to marry with the picture, and it's the same as working with an actor: you try to get them to speak, to get into a thing that is in tune with the idea, and the world that came with the idea. All these things, in the beginning maybe it's far away, but in experimenting and working, all the various elements that are so crucial come along and they're all going down the same road. And if that happens, then it's another kind of beautiful, beautiful jump into something that just feels so good."

Lynch sees his songs as "little stories". Typically we eavesdrop on a situation about to turn nasty, described by a narrator with clammy hands and a vocal quiver that betrays his own unresolved feelings of inadequacy. The title track is a monstrous mini-drama of backyard Bacchanalia. A high-pitched teenage voice pleads and celebrates ' "It was crazy clown time/It was real fun"' over a background of Blue Velvet-type gasps and sexual moans, as the fun spins out of control. "Petey lit his hair,"sings Lynch ' three times the same line, and then the payoff: "On fire."

Where do these personas come from, I ask; you seem to be channelling teenage boys? "Very much, mentally they are that,"agrees Lynch. "I don't know what happens, but sometimes I guess I'm drawn to a kind of a Southern thing. I don't know, a backwoods thing, or like a dark part of a city [long pause]. It's like a barbecue with lots and lots of beer, and girls. You know, a lot of great things can happen with that kind of combination. At night."

Crazy Clown Time is a one-chord groove, and Lynch is on record as a fan of John Lee Hooker and various Chicago blues players. Throughout the album he generates terrific anticipation by refusing harmonic movement until it's absolutely necessary. "Well, blues,"he considers, "a lot of times you just stay on one chord and away you go. Now that's a very interesting thing how that goes, and then if you do go, sometimes I like a two-chord thing, and a two-chord thing can be pretty exciting! A one-chord thing can be thrilling, if you know how to fret. Lately, my son Riles [Riley] is a great guitar player, and he's said, "˜Oh, dad's fretting!' so I started getting into it. He was mightily impressed!"

Lynch earlier ventured into singing with "Ghost Of Love", also recorded with Hurley, on his 2006 film Inland Empire. His interest in songwriting stretches back at least as far as 1990's Twin Peaks, when he collaborated with Badalamenti and the otherworldly vocalist Julee Cruise, but for Lynch, musicians are other people. "If I'm honest about it,"he says, "I am a non-musician, and there are great musicians in the world, great, great players, singers. And what they've done is inspire me so much that I've got my little lunch bucket, and I'm off to the studio to try to have fun in that world they've inspired."

So you still don't think of yourself as a musician? "No. A musician can play the thing again. And I am not a musician. I can play it once but I can't play it again. I'd say Dean is definitely a musician. I'm more of an experimenter, and I think Dean appreciates that, because it can go into strange areas."

You've got access to things that maybe he hasn't, I suggest. "Yeah, that's what makes the world go round. I always say that so much of music comes out of combinations of people, and there's a great magic to it, so it depends on who you're with, what kind of music comes out. Collaboration, exactly, is the word."

Also this autumn, Lynch has been involved in a nightclub opening and furniture design. "Well, I just designed a club,"he comments. "It's not my club, they named it Club Silencio, it's in Paris, France. And it'll be, I think, a really great club to go and enjoy yourself in the evenings. It already opened but the movie theatre isn't finished yet. So there'll be a movie theatre, live music, recorded music, a library, smoking room and many places to enjoy yourself."

But no film currently in mind? "No, I don't have the film yet. I'm waiting for that to arrive, for sure. You know, I've gotten some small packages in the mail, but I haven't got the package that really lights the fire."

Meanwhile, after years behind the camera, Lynch has stepped up to the microphone. But this is strictly a studio album, and the idea of performing these songs in public terrifies him. "If fear could catch a person on fire,"he winces, "I would burst into flame even if we talked about it too much more."

Singing like that is a brave act, I sympathise. "Yes, I'm telling you!"roars Lynch. "I'm glad you appreciate that, Clive. Because here's the thing: if you're comfortable with somebody, and finally I got comfortable, and I'm still not that comfortable singing in front of Dean, but I have to, he's the engineer, he's recording it. There are some people that just take to it like a duck to water, but this is not the case for me. And yet at the same time you have to overcome that to get to a certain place. And when that happens, I gotta say, it's kind of thrilling. You know, I really want to take my clothes off sometimes!"
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Re: Wire article on Crazy Clown Time

Postby Bob_Dobbs_Blue_Bob » Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:05 pm

Great! Thanks for posting this!

I'm eager to hear the album!
"Now it's dark....."
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Re: Wire article on Crazy Clown Time

Postby Faringold » Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:27 pm

Thanks for the transcript. That's a real nice feature/interview.
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Re: Wire article on Crazy Clown Time

Postby AllthewayfromEdmonds » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:39 pm

Wow, just found this! Thanks for posting! :D

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