|Photo by Derth Adams|
Moris Tepper and I are sitting in his back yard in Mar Vista. Its a crisp fall day, slight breeze. Turtles nip gently at my toes. Feels good.
Tepper points at his pets: These guys, I need em so bad. If they werent here, Id be dead. Cause its all Ive got. You know what? Your self is not enough. Its too big, its too endless. Im nothing, I am no one. Im alone, Im this piece of Saran Wrap Im starting to reflect everything. Cause I have nothing, I only have myself, and myself is all wrapped up in being nowhere.
This is the sound of a man trying to put his finger on it how to be a man, and an artist, and a businessman, a lover too. Why, the other day Tepper drove his car through a storefront window just as his date showed up for their first night out. Shards n splinters everywhere, people pointing and laughing. Tepper had been very distracted that day thinking about stuff, like stalkers. And did he smash the glass on purpose?
I say, Moris, I can relate completely. I myself am becoming more and more nervous about driving. Its not that Im a bad driver (Im a defensive driver hey, I know how to drive), its just that I find myself departing the driving while driving. Because theres too much to think about. Our doom, for example.
Moris Tepper makes music, and hes a painter. And if hes often lost in his own world, its because its his own world, he paid for it, and now hes compelled to live in it.
Tepperland: The guitarist/singer/multi-instrumentalist/ composer has slight name recognition for his longtime association with Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart, in whose Magic Band (Phase II, circa 197882) he played for several years, starting as a wee teen. Together they made the landmark albums Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), Doc at the Radar Station and Ice Cream for Crow. Tepper followed that highly educational experience with stints as Tom Waits guitar slayer (Franks Wild Years) and a continuing thing as six-string foil to ex-Pixie Frank Black. Sometimes he does sessions for people he feels an affinity with, such as Robyn Hitchcock, but Im not really a session player I dont know where the notes are. I know where the colors are. Hes scored for cartoons too, such as UPNs Mouse and the Monster.
He is, among many things and pound for pound, the most original guitar player on the planet, and did in fact have a big hand in chiseling the second Magic Bands spiky, brain-wringing sound. Its a stumbling, clairvoyant, feral approach to the ax, a point of view that he has for the last several years brought to a solo career that has produced three albums of startling virtuosity (on his own subtle terms), melodic abundance and freely individual character. 1995s Big Enough To Disappear first hinted at the breadth of his talents, and hes recently completed the glorious Moth to Mouth, both of which are available through his Candlebone label Web site.Okay, Moris Tepper is a wonderful musician (more about that in a sec), and hes trying hard to make an adequate living at it thats a common tale. But Tepper, while far from pathetic, is also a Lonely Guy, seemingly burdened with an immeasurable ache of some sort. I know, I know, youre damn lonely too, reader, but the point is, there are people who can get a lot of creative mileage out of it, like Tepper does. And you, like Tepper, might not be blamed for feeling sometimes that you ought to, oh, sell out in a small way, if only to feel some kind of re-establishment of relations with the real world, the one where people (not artists) can pay their bills and afford to think about . . . love affairs and . . . babies.
Tepper wants to be a father, but the thought troubles him, and the timing right now is probably terrible. Im really enjoying the bloody meat of the pulp of the art Im doing, he says. Its getting scary, because it entails being free. Part of me still thinks I should have, like, the right woman who can just make it sort of come together in the right way. I think my heart . . . man wants woman, man wants family at this age.