Sean Lennon has been collaborating with girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl on a set of “surrealistic psychedelic pop songs,” which they will be unveiling under the collective project name Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.
They promise a full-band, electric version of this material for next year, but for now they will be sharing a pared-down, acoustic version of the quirky songs tonight at the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
We spoke yesterday on the phone yesterday with Sean, who was preparing for a hectic end of the week. He also kindly offered us one of the record's best songs “The World Was Made for Men” as a free downolad (see below).
Where are you now?
I'm at the St. Martin's Lane Hotel in London, recording a demo for a spot that I got in Japan–a commercial spot I'm recording it on my laptop in the shower, trying to get a good echo from the shower stall.
When are you coming to LA?
I'm coming tomorrow and sadly it's the same day of our show. I'm waiting for Charlotte to get back from her job. She has a job with a makeup company, Maybelline and when she gets back we have to rehearse, then pack, sleep, get up very early, then fly to LA and go directly to the Masonic Hollywood Cemetery and do soundcheck immediately from there. So, this is a headache.
Is this the first time you have played a cemetery?
It's the first time that the crowd has been officially dead, but I've had some corpses in the audience, metaphorical stiffs, before.
You're also the producer and musical director of the Plastic Ono Band [led by coolest mom ever, Yoko Ono] show next week, right?
Exactly. As soon as my show with Ghost ends, then I'll be rehearsing Plastic Ono Band.
When was the first time you became aware of Serge Gainsbourg's music?
I've been a fan of Serge Gainsbourg since I was quite young, and in fact I did a cover of “Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus” [perfect French accent] for John Zorn's Tzadik label. He owns a successful indie label in New York and he's an old friend of mine, so I recorded “Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus” with my old band Cibo Matto [perfect Japanese accent] that was about… it was a long time ago!
I've been a fan of Serge for years. I've been sort of obsessed with French culture since I was maybe 11? When I was 12 I went to boarding school in the French area of Switzerland and I was always really interested in speaking French. I don't really know why, because it would have made more sense living in New York to speak Spanish but I sort of excelled at French when I was young, so there was no particular reason for it. I just had a connection with French culture. I always liked French cinema and I always liked French literature, so I've been a fan for quite some time.
Was there a point when you were listening to the Gainsbourg-Birkin duets and said “Man, I wish I was dating a very attractive girl who also sings so I can do something like this”?
[laughs] Well, that's actually not what happened. I mean, people compare The Ghost of Saber Tooth Tiger with Serge and Jane just because Charlotte is so beautiful, but that's the only thing that's similar to us as a couple. Charlotte always jokes that we're like Serge and Jane, except Sean is Jane and Charlotte is Serge, but that's not exactly true. It's closer to the truth that Charlotte is a real alpha personality and she cowrites all the songs with me. We produce all the music equally and we make all the decisions together. It's more like a band of two Serges, in the way the music is conceived and created.