|Photo: Steve Satterwhite|
Cool Beans! #6
Harry Pussy Interview Themselves
Adris: Dude, it's 11:25.
Bill: Ok, lets get it over with.
Adris: Why are you hesitant to discuss musical influences?
Bill: I'm not hesitant to discuss musical influences.
Adris: Why do you buy so much music and what do you listen to now that you did not listen to before the band started playing? I know you listen to a lot of different music, and that it's changed over the years.
Bill: Well, music has changed. I listen to a lot of new stuff, so obviously that's different.
Adris: Is that why you have to buy so many CDs? To keep up with it?
Bill: I think buying CDs is a different thing. You know how when you get upset you go shopping? Obviously I'm pretty upset.
Adris: But there's a big difference between buying CDs and buying clothing.
Bill: Not for me.
Adris: A CD is something that will affect your musical style.
Bill: I don't know if that's true. I don't know. It feels good. I go through periods where I just need that. To go and just look at the covers and stuff and know that I'm going to walk out of there with a record.
Adris: For me, I've had to listen to music with much more musical ears since I've been doing the Monostat thing. And they know I'm the one in charge of creating this music. I have to listen to music now and think, "What kind of sound do I want to go for with Monostat?" And when I can't afford to buy music I borrow it from you, as you well know. Ok, next question: Why are you on Siltbreeze?
Adris: What Siltbreeze ethos attracts you to the label when there's no money in it? And what attracts you to Siltbreeze?
Bill: Well I guess they are the only label that asked us to be on.
Adris: Why do you pursue music and not film? What makes you play music? Why do you enjoy playing music?
Bill: We started playing music together at a point where I was really sick of doing film. That was two or three years after the Alliance started and I was completely exhausted and burned out from working.
Adris: What do you love most about performing and creating music? Why do you strive for perfection in music?
Bill: I don't strive for perfection.
Adris: You work very hard at it.
Bill: No I don't.
Adris: But none the less there is a certain sound you're going for.
Bill: Yeah, that's true. I think that's a mistake actually. It's trying to get that sound you hear in your head. Because that's insanity. It's much better to take the sounds that are
there and then work with them. Which we did to a certain extent. But yeah, I've explained it a lot of times, trying to get that trio thing happening.
Adris: Has playing with other musicians for your solo album affected your styles or desires for what you want to do with music?
Bill: I didn't play with Danny enough for it to have any affect on me really. I played with him at most half a dozen times.
Adris: What bands would you like to tour with?
Bill: Anybody who's good I guess.
Adris: After playing with the Irving Klaw Trio the other day I really feel that I would like to play with a more energetic kind of band that has more going on onstage. Maybe they're not the best band in the world or maybe I don't think "This is a great band." But I think that bands that have a lot of energy on stage have influenced me to play more or give me more ideas. Like when we played with Liquorball I kind of got off on that. I got off on the fact that all this was going on onstage and this is great! This is so much fun, I'm going to have fun too! I still want to play with Smog. I wanted to play with Smog when they asked, but we weren't able to do that. What's the benefit to listeners not understanding lyrics? Do you prefer the lyrics that people can't understand?
Bill: Well, what do you prefer when you're singing?
Adris: Yeah, well I think that the sound I'm creating is more important. Like I'm striving to sound like different instruments. I like singing now, I have fun.
Bill: You're good at it. Remember when you first started singing you wouldn't write lyrics? And I wrote that first set of songs and I think it's great because I really like your lyrics now.
Adris: Yeah, I'm having a lot of fun doing it. I think playing with Three Day Stubble, they're a really energetic band. It was after the Three Day Stubble tour that I started to sing, I started grabbing the microphone and I wasn't doing that before. I think they really influenced me, that whole thing where you adopt a persona onstage. It got me going with the idea that when I get the microphone I'm adopting a persona. I'm not just a singer.
Bill: How would you describe your persona?
Adris: Very primitive. Singing from the soul. No I'm joking. God this whole interview is going to be a joke. My persona is more like this wild crazy woman who's letting out this huge force that people are scared of. Which is a joke because it's not the real me. But in a way it is.
Bill: There's a good thing in that Lydia Lunch thing you're working on. You were writing from
Lydia Lunch's perspective of what it's like to be this crazy
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woman in front of this audience of mostly men and what their ideas are about women and what they expect from you.
Adris: The idea that I was trying to get across was the fact that she's onstage and that she's very powerless and it's the audience who was in power and that she was up there just as a performer but she was the one who was weak. The stage is something that is elevated and people are beneath the stage, but really, the truth is that the stage is lowered and the people are kind of looking down at her, especially with her type of performance. People are just looking down at this weak figure and they're in control, and she's up there and could get beat up at any minute if someone got mad.
Bill: Well then why can't everyone do it?
Adris: Anyone can do it.
Bill: But anyone can't do it.
Adris: The whole point of a place like Churchill's where we started out is that anyone with the guts can get on that stage. It's a power play between the audience and the performer. Like I had always looked at the performers and thought "Oh wow, they're on stage. That's such a great thing." And I don't see that anymore. I don't see it that way at all anymore. I sort of feel like I'm this creature on stage and I have to scream out "I am strong!" But the whole thing is kind of like a joke, which gets me to my next question: Do you feel that the humor has gone out of it since the days of Brown Butterfly and Robert Ranks Reed which were were basically writing funny songs?
Bill: I think there's still humor in it.
Adris: I think there's actually more humor with me screaming. It's like that story I told you about when I was in fifth grade and nobody liked me. I was the dork and I dressed bad and all this. And I remember sitting outside one day by a tree and everyone else was playing and I was sitting alone and suddenly I started screaming for no reason and I don't know why. I never knew why, I just started
screaming my lungs out. And the teacher made me write on the blackboard five hundred times "I will not scream. I will not scream." I think there's something funny about all that. Ok, did I ask you this already? With the popularity of punk with the success of Nirvana, the underground has been pushed way underground. How do you feel about this? Do you feel that music has to be more extreme? Do you feel that because our music is more underground than punk now that punk is popular that we have to strive for being better than punk in a sense that we shock more?
Bill: That's a good question.
Adris: Because the idea with punk is that it's a worse kind of music with Johnny Rotten spewing out boogers you know and all this shit. And now, we're more underground than that?
Bill: What do you mean we're more underground?
Adris: Well, because punk in the 80s was the underground music.
Bill: I don't think we're shocking at all. You know, the bands that are attempting to shock are you know, Marilyn Manson. I don't think that we or any of the people who we get grouped with are really trying to shock anybody. Here's a question for you: Do you think the music we play is retro?
Adris: We've discussed this before! What do you mean retro? All music is retro because you can't do a music so original that...
Bill: There's a difference between music that's original and music that's retro. A lot of bands now are kind of retro 70s whether it's Kraut-rock or... I've heard people suggest that we're kind of retro 80s.
Adris: But obviously it's not direct. We take a lot of stuff from the 80s but we change it. Because it doesn't sound like 80s music. So while it's influenced by that stuff I don't think it's a copy of it. On the contrary, it's very original. And we have so many different influences, not just that we're repeating what we've heard before. So that's in a
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sense of retro meaning retro being just a repetition of old styles, we're certainly not that. I think we're a blend of a lot of different things. Which is evident by your CD collection. In fact I would say we go so far as to make fun of our influences.
Bill: A little bit.
Adris: When we quote them I think we really make fun of our influences. I think when we're doing Black Flag, it's a joke.
Bill: Well yeah. That's obviously a joke.
Adris: Do you get fed up and frustrated with interviewers asking the same unimaginative questions?
Bill: Yes. That's funny. Yes I do.
Adris: I get very depressed. There's been times when we've had someone interview us for a small fanzine and I don't care that somebody's got a little fanzine that they're starting but..
Bill: What about when we got interviewed for Sonic Death?
Adris: That was a great interview.
Bill: And Lee's first question was, "So, tell me how you guys got started." I just laughed. I thought he was going to come up with something really interesting.
Adris: No, no, that's a standard question. I don't think there's anything wrong with that question, that's like asking a couple, "How did you two meet?" So I like that question. But there's questions like "Are you guys big rock stars" or "Who do you think you are doing this?" or "Why do you try so hard to be weird?"
Bill: We're so used to what we do that it doesn't really seem as strange to us as it does to someone who might be interviewing us. To us it's just sort of what we do. But to other people it's just this sort of terribly inappropriate behavior. And that's the thing they're most interested in, is
why do you want to make this awful music? But to us, we just think we sound like, just, another day.
Adris: The Sonic Death interview was just great. That experience of playing with Sonic Youth was just incredible.
Bill: That was pretty weird.
Adris: I felt really good at the time.
Bill: Are you angry when you play?
Adris: Of course I'm angry when I play. One of the first reviews of our stuff, before we played with Marky even said I was thinking of my abusive father while playing the drums and I thought that was a really good line.
Bill: So what do you think of when you're playing?
Adris: Oh god. It depends on my emotion at the time. I could be thinking about really mundane things when I play, like shopping or my job and not be angry at all. Or if a lot of things happened to me in a day I could be thinking about that. I'm not always angry when I play, but sometimes I am. I try to be angry because it makes me play harder. And sometimes if I'm angry I get sloppy if I'm thinking too much about something. Another question I really wanted to ask was: You used found sound on a film you did, why haven't you incorporated that into your music?
Bill: It's kind of like we do. Most of our records, everything except the one LP and the first 7" were not formal recording sessions. They were like rehearsal tapes and stuff like that. So in a sense that's found sound, just turning the tape recorder on.
Adris: That's true, and you've used audience response.
Bill: And there's audience stuff and there's little bits of ambient noise. Ride a Dove is virtually all found stuff. One track is nothing but room tone just really jacked up and amplified.
Adris: How has film influenced your music?
Bill: There's some stuff with repetition, and there's one track, the thing we did for Seymour, for the Bananafish thing, whatever it is. Rehearsal for the White Improviser that has the same piece repeated over and over again. And that's kind of like some sort of structuralist avant garde film.
Adris: Have you ever wanted to punch an audience member?
Bill: Not while I was playing.
Bill: Yeah, sometimes afterwards and sometimes before.
Adris: What do people say that gets you angry.
Bill: Just if someone's really annoying me. Sometimes I feel really captive if there's no place to go and you're sort of trapped, then I get annoyed.
Adris: I get annoyed by people who ask us "So you're from Florida, do you listen to Tom Petty?"
Bill: People who annoy me. Yeah, people who ask me about Florida. Well, I guess that's a reasonable enough question. But it's funny that when we started, the one thing that I
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really affected my goals and aspirations with Harry Pussy. It's really good stuff and it's going to be released on two cool labels, Audible Hiss and Betley Welcomes Careful Drivers.
Bill: I read somewhere on the Internet that you and Graham are getting married. What's the story with that?
Adris: Well, we met on tour and we started seeing each other. We were in separate vans when we started the tour and I sort of moved to his van. I spent a month with him in England and we recorded our music together and so whatever. That's in discussion right now. No, I'm just going to say it. That's a lie. We're not getting married. We had a relationship, but nothing lasts forever.
Bill: So tell me your story about the Circle Jerks.
Adris: My parents were very protective, they wouldn't let me out of the house when I was young. But I was always really excited about going to punk shows. So finally one of my favorite bands was the Circle Jerks and I finally go get to see them. So I get in front of the stage and I'm talking with this girl who's a groupie and wants to make it with the singer. And when the singer came out and had long hair and was wearing Hawaiian shorts and at the time I was really into punk rock, I've liked some really cheesy stuff, and I saw him and I said "What a dork!" And I saw the drummer and he's got really short hair and he's a big guy and he's doing some really heavy drumming, beating the shit out of the drums and I was like "Man, drummers are cool!" That convinced me that it's great to be a drummer because the drummer gives power to the band.
Bill: What was the first show you ever saw?
Adris: One of the first shows was the Ramones at The Cameo around 1988. You don't remember the first show you ever saw do you?
Bill: I saw some local band outdoors at a park or something.
Adris: Yeah, it's probably the same with me, but I don't remember.
Bill: I'm out of questions.
Adris: Have you felt that the marriage has affected or added to the dramatics surrounding the actual band performances?
Bill: I don't know. I mean, I guess it has. But I'd be hard pressed to tell you how.
Adris: Yeah, I guess you can't really be specific about it. But I think there's sort of like because when we were in a relationship it was almost like an extension of the bedroom.
Bill: Oh. Ok.
Adris: And I think there was a lot of intimacy at the start of the band. And I think because of that intimacy we were more in tune with what each other was playing. And in fact one of the first desires that I had, not to have sex with you, to play music with you, was the fact that I felt like that was a part of your life that I was very outside of. You would play music and you would be very private about playing music because you were very like "I don't want
didn't think about at all was the fact that we're from Florida. And as soon as the first record came out it was like "You're from Florida." "Oh right. We're a Florida band." And in a certain sense that gave us a certain amount of content to work with, that we didn't have. If you look at the very first 7" it's Yoko Ono, a quote from Grapefruit, some situationalist stuff, and a bit of an advertisement for Guitar Player and the girl from the grunge issue of Vogue. And it was put together like a cheap hardcore 7" but I didn't really think of that as being the subject of the thing. It was just sort of a funny little collage. But then by the time the album had rolled around it was obvious that people were pinning us as some kind of Florida hardcore mutants. And that became, "Ok, well lets work with that."
Adris: Do you have any more questions for me?
Bill: Perhaps. Ok, tell me about your side projects.
Adris: Monostat Three I'm working on right now and it's me and Pria Ray who plays violin and it's really difficult for me to do. It's two girls who have always played with guys. So now we're having to be in charge of the music, but it's really exciting too because we're working with different sounds so since I've had to start creating songs for Monostat it's actually been a lot easier for me to turn around and do things for Harry Pussy. So it's easier for me to create things with Harry Pussy because I'm having to be more assertive and take charge. And some of the lyrics for Monostat have been incorporated into Harry Pussy. My other solo project, Transmission, is a no wave sort of take off more than anything else. With Transmission I've been thinking about music differently because it's playing steady rhythms, creating songs a different way. I think that's
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someone to watch me play music while I'm doing this weird thing." But then when we started playing music it became a game where you were either in or out of the game. Where you were either playing music with us, or you couldn't be there at all. And when we started having practices at the beginning and a couple of people would come, it would be like "Well, you're here, you've got to do something." Like if somebody else would be playing my drums, I would have to do something. You can't be an observer and be judgemental. And I feel like that feeling has been incorporated into our live performances where it's not just a matter of us being three people on stage with some people applauding after the songs. We're doing it to get some kind of audience response cause we don't want people to just be standing there. We want people to be having some kind of fun...
Bill: That's true. I agree. I do hate the sort of abstract appreciation that a band is good. I do like that strong response. That is a lot of fun. Ok, let me tell you about a dream that I have. It's a recurring dream that I've had throughout my life. And this will probably give some insight into the band. I have this dream that I'm being chased by a really large angry mob of people and I'm running away laughing.
Adris: That's it. That describes us perfectly. How do you feel about that dream though?
Bill: It's a good dream for me, cause I always wake up feeling really happy. Cause I don't get caught, I escape.
Adris: So you feel like you're getting away with something, when you're playing.
Bill: I feel like I'm just....getting away.
Harry Pussy discography
Nose Ring 7" on Esync 1993
Girl Holding Frog 7" on Esync 1993
Harry Pussy LP on Siltbreeze 1996
"Please Don't Come Back From The Moon 7" on Blackjack 1994
Zero de Conduite dbl 7" on Audible Hiss 1995
Miami Flavour 7" on Planet 1995
split 7" with Noggin on Chocolate Monk 1995
What Was Music CD Siltbreeze 1996
Ride a Dove CD/LP Siltbreeze 1996
write to Harry Pussy 1618 Michigan Ave #27, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Cool Beans! #6