By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
I don’t know, exactly. The Fool was in there at the beginning of the journey. My favorite card.
Do you remember having any particularly vivid dreams while sleeping in that house?
No, although there’s an owl that perches outside of my window every single night. That is the only thing I can recall. I’m not a dream person, I have a dream maybe once a month.
I assume that the ambience or energy field or whatever up there in Topanga feels conducive to creativity.
It feels open. It’s easy to be present in a place that isn’t obsessed with its past. Topanga has an incredible history. So does Woodstock -- unbelievable history. Yet in Woodstock they’re holding on to that history. You walk into most bars or restaurants there, there’ll be a picture of Bob Dylan and the Band, etc. There’s this holding on there to the past. Topanga is a place that’s very friendly; it has a rich lineage and history, but there’s not an exclusive sense; there’s an acceptance going on for the past. And there aren’t relics surrounding the place.
So you don’t feel like you’re in a time warp?
Yeah, it doesn’t feel that way. I mean, the reason I chose Bearsville to record the Cripple Crow album was because basically we were listening to Bobby Charles’ record, the first record, constantly, and we knew at least half of it was recorded at Bearsville. And we walked in and it was just all wood and, like, a Persian rug, and there weren’t pictures of Eagles records and all that stuff; it was just that all the information, that history, was all just stored in the wood, and that gave us a beautiful springboard to do our thing.
Say, when you were in Woodstock, did you ever happen to run into Ed Sanders?
Did you say Ed Sanders?
That’s unbelievable. Okay, the two guests that I wanted to have on that record were Dee Brown [author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee] and Ed Sanders [ex-Fugs singer; magnificent wiping-the-floor-with-Bukowski poet and, as the author of Tales of Beatnik Glory, the greatest rock critic who ever strode this earth]. I’m a huge Fugs fan, and I’m a huge fan of his poetry. I ran into him at a supermarket, and he was grumpy and kind of like put off, and he was trying to shop. I understand, I didn’t want to be a pain in the ass. I just gave him a quick little spiel, gave him my number, and he ended up giving me a ring. I was so honored, but I could feel that it was a bit of a chore for him. He’s a busy guy, and I just thought, I won’t bother this guy. I was just so happy to run into him at the supermarket.
He is the greatest. My favorite writer.
Oh, I know, he’s unbelievable. I was also gonna try and get [Fug] Tuli Kupferberg; unfortunately we couldn’t get ahold of him, and extremely unfortunately Dee Brown passed away a couple months before I managed to get some information that would lead me to him.
You think something could happen in the future, with you and Tuli and Ed?
Yeah, maybe, maybe. I’d be honored. Those dirty old men . . .
Now, back to the new album. The first thing I noticed is that your singing is deeper and even warblier, more daringly, what, Ferry-esque than ever. Or maybe it’s that guy in Simple Minds. Well, all these different ways you’re using your voice, like a musical instrument, it’s a thrill. Have you been training, or what?
You know, it’s funny, because when you called, Greg Rogove, who’s in the band Priestbird -- he’s also our drummer, sings with us and he’s a songwriter -- he was just showing me a photograph of a group of African men with elephantitus of the scrotum, and they are just the size of baby elephants, it’s unbelievable.
But why I brought that up is because I think something that’s happened as I’ve grown older is that my nutsack has slowly begun to descend. I’m a very late bloomer, and I’ve discovered that my range has opened up.
I haven’t been in training, but I would tell you I did start taking tai chi lessons while we were building the studio, for a couple weeks, and that, with the breathing exercises, the focus, it was actually incredible. I can’t imagine that anything could be more helpful than that.
Your singing’s almost athletic on this new record.
The reason I started tai chi is I wanted to have something to warm up my body and do a little exercise while I’m on tour. I’m not a gym person or do extra pushups or anything, so that seemed like a wonderful exercise. And what I didn’t know at the time is that it’s an incredible tool for warming up your voice and for expanding your range.
I see that actor Gael Garcia Bernal guest vocalizes on the first track, “Cristobal.”