Last night's release party for my Chocolate and Cheese book (available on Amazon starting 3/31) was a blast. I'd like to extend a sincere thank you to WORD for hosting, to Tom Kelly and Laal Shams for remedying some last-minute technical issues, to Claire Heitlinger for providing the chocolate-and-cheese refreshments, and to everyone that came out.
Two more release events are coming up soon:
Saturday, March 26, 2011 at Farley's Bookshop in New Hope, Pennsylvania. 1–4pm
Thursday, April 7, 2011 at Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. 7:30pm. Also appearing: fellow 33 1/3 authors Daphne Carr (Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine), Christopher R. Weingarten (Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back) and Bryan Charles (Pavement's Wowee Zowee).
By way of a countdown to the book's official release, I thought I'd post some interesting odds and ends from my research that didn't make it to the final product. Below is an exceedingly brief interview with Boredoms mainman Yamataka Eye. I tracked down Eye due to his involvement in the little-known record Z-Rock Hawaii, a collaboration between him and Ween—with trusty producer Andrew Weiss along for the ride—that was made right around the same time as Chocolate and Cheese, i.e., somewhere between the fall of ’93 and the spring of ’94. (I remember reading somewhere that though several members of the Boredoms are credited on the record, it was only Eye that actually appeared on it—I can't find the source now, though, so don't quote me on it.)
Z-Rock isn't a great album, but it is a fun one, a meeting of the deranged, outsider-pop minds. Much of the record skews toward inscrutable yet hilarious sound collage (e.g., the immortal "Tuchus") and high-speed, drum-machine-fueled spaz punk (e.g., "Love Like Cement", where the Ween-plus-Boredoms angle really comes through). But my favorite track is "God in My Bed" (streaming above), an atmospheric spoken-word piece that plays like an account of a drug-induced meltdown thanks to a muggy drone background, commentary from a lonely trumpet, some trademark Ween slowed-down-voice action and a deeply disturbed monologue. I love the robot-malfunction "scramble" effect on the vocal at 2:06 and the genuinely creepy conclusion (3:16), which reminds me of John Goodman's climactic rant in Barton Fink: "You want my chicken? My potato salad? You want me to tell you how my day was?!?"
As far as the Eye interview, it was probably the most least profitable Q&A I've ever undertaken, in terms of usable material generated vs. effort expended. (That's just a factual statement, no disrespect intended: That's why they call it a language barrier.) When I reached out to the Boredoms camp, I was told that I could interview Eye over e-mail but that I'd need to have my questions translated into Japanese before sending. Furthermore, the answers would be sent back to me in Japanese, so I'd need to get those translated back into English. A journalistic nightmare to be sure, but I found a friend of a co-worker who was willing to help me out. When I finally got the English answers back, though, they were so brief that I didn't see any way to incorporate them into the manuscript. Oh well, it was an interesting detour in my research. Also, looking back at the Q&A, I realized I'd forgotten how much I loved Eye's answer to my last question...
Eye Q&A re: Z-Rock Hawaii—August, 2009
How did the Z-Rock Hawaii project come about?
I don’t remember exactly, but I loved Ween so I was really excited when they talked to me about it.
What do you remember about working with Ween? How was the music composed and recorded? Did you actually perform in the same room with them?
I was staying at Mickey’s house. I’m pretty sure it was the house they called “The Pod." Andrew was the engineer. I don’t remember exactly how we wrote the songs, but I remember it being fun.
Were you a fan of Ween before you met them? What do you enjoy about their music?
Of course I was a fan. There’s something natural about their music. Something really laid-back and spontaneous.
Since Z-Rock Hawaii was recorded around the same time as Chocolate and Cheese, do you remember hearing anything from that album before it was released? If so, what was your opinion of the material?
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to listen to it back then.
Do you have any other impressions of Chocolate and Cheese? Was it influential to the Boredoms at all?
I’m not sure. I really love it, but I don’t know if it had an influence on the Boredoms.
Do you notice any general similarities between Ween and the Boredoms?
Maybe it’s that we’re all geeks? (I hope that doesn’t sound rude.)