Check out Josh Darr’s series of artists interviews and portraits taken at the DMB Caravan in Chicago, Ill.
1. What is the most pivotal or influential record or band you listened to when you were sixteen?
2. What is one experience good or bad from the ‘90s that is etched in your mind and is something you’ll never forget?
1. Israel Nebeker: Radiohead… either The Bends or maybe OK Computer.
Ryan Dobrowski: Mine was very much Dave Matthews, I was getting into drumming at the time and it was like really cool what he was doing with music.
Dave Jorgensen: Jimi Hendrix’s Axis: Bold As Love...That was the record I was mostly influenced by.
Ian Krist: Mine was definitely Fugazi – Red Machine. It was pretty much a staple and still kind of is.
Kati Jorgenson: I was just listening to what was on the radio, and got a hold of one of my dad’s tapes: Willie Nelson – The Poet.
Luke Ydstie: [laughs hesitantly] I think it was either Cake or Weezer, but I’m pretty sure it was Weezer’s Blue Album... it just slayed me. It was the first concert I went to and it was just overwhelmingly awesome.
2. Dobrowski: (jokingly…I went through puberty) I was in my first band in the ‘90s, it was called Twisted… two drummers and a keyboard/trumpet player.
Nebeker: The thing that comes up for me is I got a really great group of friends. We started camping and hanging out. I got into music and creating my own fun. [directed at Ryan] You should tell him about meeting Moses…
Dobrowski: Moses was this long blonde-haired sort-of-rebel in this jockey-conservative high school I went to. He had a knife in the car who I distinctly remember being introduced to as he was shredding the National Anthem from this cement spire-like portion of our high school stadium before an event. I knew we had to get him in the band at the time… Not sure what he’s up to now..
Dave Jorgensen:: I think, well… I went to my first rock concert Pink Floyd—the Division Bell Tour. At that point it was mostly the David Gilmour tour. I’d never seen that before… it was in Madison, Wis. I remember a guy that got beat up from the same town I was from was there selling drugs. He didn’t recognize me and was offering everyone pot. He turned out to be the drummer in one of my later bands [everyone in trailer laughs]. I never told him about that experience at the show… he was a pot smoking gun nut.
Krist: I was a member in a drum and bugle corp in the ‘90s and that was pretty pivotal for me. I had gotten into a lot of trouble… that time and age is tough on kids.
Kati Jorgenson: A lot of things go through my head, but I keep coming back to Phish. I saw them at The Gorge in ‘97… the lifestyle thing was so different. I was like, “whoa people are living way different than in Vancouver, Wash.
Ydstie: I think this is probably because of everyone else’s answers… the first show I ever played was in 1999 with my friends Andrew and Nate and it was in a talent show. I got to miss the field trip to the wetlands to catalog wildlife and we played a song called “I Don’t Wanna Go To Jail”.
Garrett Dutton (G Love & Special Sauce)
1. I would say John Hammond’s Country Blues really changed the way I looked at music. When I heard “Traveling Riverside Blues,” I was taken aback. Other than Bob Dylan and Neil Young, I hadn’t heard anyone else playing with a harmonica on a rack. It was my first musical epiphany—finding the blues and that passion and that’s what I’ve been stuck on ever since.
2. Probably the night I took acid before going on stage when we were opening for the Violent Femmes in Lawrence, Kan. (good and bad). Also, getting my record deal in ‘93 and to have your dream realized. I remember getting the call from my manager telling me we had just signed with Epic. It had been nine months since the band’s first rehearsal. I distinctly remember it was a moment where you knew nothing in your life would be the same again.
1. R.E.M.’s Murmur and Document were really good…I was into both of those.
2. The most random things are coming to mind… let’s think of something important. I remember it was the start of the first Gulf War and George [Bush] Sr. announced they were going to have to reinstate the draft. It was the night I wrote “Shane” and there was this big tizzy about it. I remember thinking the future wasn’t gonna be okay, and given the current status, the future isn’t okay.
Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips)
1. Well, it would probably be seeing The Who…cause that was right…I was about 16 when I saw them and that was the classic lineup. We had of course listened to all kinds of music, The Who was just another one of those groups you knew a little bit of .And back then this would’ve been 1977 all of the groups for whatever reason came through Oklahoma City—you know that’s where I’m from you know. It’s kind of unheard of now to think “wow, you’d see all these groups,” but Led Zeppelin and The Eagles and all these groups… so probably seeing The Who. And I think some people would think they were past their peak or whatever but on this show that I saw and was part of was a pretty, pretty powerful experience—not just their songs, but just the whole feeling of what they were doing and you know I probably walked away changed more by that than just listening and being around music.
2. [Laughs at question] It’s pretty open ended… yeah yeah the ‘90s. Let me just think… for me you know there’s always… the day to day things are always hard to remember. You know it’d be significant things like when people die or something like that. So, I’m trying to think… we made Transmissions from the Satellite Heart in 1993 we made Clouds Taste Metallic in 1996. My father died in 1996 and then we made Zaireeka and The Soft Bulletin after. So I’d suppose it was that middle area, you know, when The Flaming Lips our identity sort of changed and moved into a different area. So it’d probably be something like that.
This first really profound personal experience with death, seeing people around me all having to deal with all that and you know you want that… you want to know what’s this other dimension of life. Especially when you’re young and you haven’t had any of these tragedies happen to you. You kind of live on another side of the world ‘cause a lot of people have had tragic things happen to them and you don’t know what it’s like until you’ve experienced them. So that’s probably you know… probably death, my father dying right at the end of 1996… I think that changes you, changes your priorities or fucks with you…or makes you hate life or love life. I mean I don’t know…it’s all those things. But since then, there’s probably plenty of people who’ve died since then…that would be my ‘90s…yeah.
Tom Gray (Gomez)
1. Wow…If I was 16..when would that be 1993. Holy smokes… that’s a real tough question. I’d probably had been listening to a lot of Pixies records in 1993. And probably a couple of Nirvana records, but I also got given Gris-Gris by Dr. John around then. It kind of changed the way I thought about music and still it’s kind of my favorite record. So that’s probably the one… yeah. Absolutely…it completely bowled me over and made me rethink everything. ‘Cause I was just a straight-out indie kid, you know? Listening to things like Stone Roses and all the British indie like Suede and all that stuff.
Then suddenly…and you know I had grown up with being played Dylan and all that stuff, and so I knew all of that but when I had discovered Dr. John that kind of really flipped things on the head of it for me. There’s that and probably listening to the Talking Heads—those are the kind of things listening to them back-to-back is kind of where the formulations of what Gomez was gonna be came from.
2. Well jeez.. I mean that’s kind of a tough question—everything happened in the ‘90s for me. I was 13 when it started and 23 when it finished. My career started… I don’t know it’s tough. It’s a funny thing really, I’ve gotta pick one event. The ‘90s ended for me with my father dying, and I think I’d be lying if I didn’t give that answer. That’s the thing if I could think what happened in the ‘90s, I think that’s what happened. So yeah, my father died…that’s a nice answer for you isn’t it? [I noted that Wayne Coyne just gave a similar response] I was still a kid you know, I was trying to make our second record when it happened and then yeah I lost my way for quite a long time. Just not really knowing what I wanted to do at that point. I kind of felt like it all made sense. It’s a strange thing when your father dies… Oh that’s it? Look at us all giving these morbid answers [laughs].