I heart Jay Reatard. I've got 2006's Blood Visions memorized. I have the brand-new comp Singles 06–07 sitting right here on my desk. I'm the one who bugs all my friends to loan me the Lost Sounds and Terror Visions albums, plus some of the other five or six side projects the Memphis, Tennessee, hyperproducing garage punk has churned out since the baby age of 15. I'm the perfect superfan to do an interview. But I fucked it up. Yep. There I was whooping it up with R&B punks King Khan & the Shrines the night before, and I fell dead asleep the afternoon that I was supposed to do the phone interview. I guess a booked-solid U.S. tour (including a stop in Chicago for the Pitchfork Music Festival) is more important than finding a time to reschedule with me, but I really wanted to talk to him. So let's just pretend I did get to talk to Mr. Reatard. Which I didn't. These answers are all adapted from things he's said to other people. Damn it.
How do you churn out so much awesomely raw-sounding, lo-fi material so quickly?
It's kinda like a Polaroid of music. It's just right then and there. Quick and spontaneous. I think that's how music should be made.1
What about the lightning-fast 20-minute sets? At SXSW this year, I stood around for two hours waiting for you guys to play, and then the set seemed to only last 10 minutes.
You definitely have to do something, be different than everybody else. Most of the time, they only give you 15 or 20 minutes to play. A lot of bands don't utilize that so well. We just try to blitzkrieg everyone and play as many songs as we can, as fast as possible, with no breaks or no bullshit in between. I think that approach kinda takes people aback, 'cause a lot of times they're just used to seeing bands who are looking really lazy in the middle of the day, hungover... I think just the energy level sometimes will make you stand out among a bunch of bands who seem like lazy drunk assholes.2
You're probably sick to death of talking about it—but the recent Amy Winehouse fan-punch made me think of you. What the hell happened at that Toronto show?
That show got completely fucked up. The Silver Dollar holds 190 people, but Craig Laskey, the promoter, let 350 people in there. That's cool if there's some sort of security or crowd control—we don't need people getting so wild they jump onstage and smash our gear—but that's exactly what happened. Right when we started playing, someone pushed the monitors right on top of Stephen and onto his pedals, breaking them. People were throwing beer bottles at us, someone jumped onstage and smashed my pedals, another guy took a full pitcher of beer and dumped it all over the rest of my pedals, and then threw it right at my Flying V, breaking the pickup and the input electronics. After three songs, all our gear was smashed and unusable. Even when shit gets that crazy at a Circle Jerks show, there's at least some security.3
Speaking of your blog, I love how much random music, how many MP3s you're always posting. Ooh, like that old Final Solutions demo...
That was recorded while we were trying to write our masterpiece "Songs by Solutions." I liked how fucked up the live-in-the-store-to-mic recording turned out and wanted to share it.4
I love the new Singles 06–07. What sort of singles are you listening to? Other bands?
Earth Men and Strangers—Ryan from the Reatards' new band. Great pop/punk weirdness Cola Freaks, Denmark's best kept secret. And Cheap Time, Tennessee's second best band! Ha.5
Nice! Hey, thanks for interview, sorry I slept through the phone call.
No problem, Kelly O. Next time, watch out for those late-night King Khan parties. I once ended up in a fucked-up blond wig and a pair of so-small-one-of-my-nuts-was-hanging-out silk underwear because of him. 6
3. www.jayreatard.blogspot.com, Fri April 18, 2008, 10:13 am
4. www.jayreatard.blogspot.com, Fri Aug 31, 2007, 2:33 pm
5. www.myspace.com/jayreatard, Wed July 9, 2008