Timmy “the terror” Anderson gives good directions. For the first time ever, I did not get lost driving in the Hollywood Hills. When I arrive, Anderson, the guitarist for Ima Robot, is doing a phone interview with some other journalist, and Ima Robot’s other critical half, Alex Ebert (vocals), is late. Anderson’s house, nestled in the hills, could be a West Elm showroom. No, seriously, I recognize it all: chairs, coffee table, even vases from the catalog. Despite the lux feel of the pad, Ebert pulls up in a very unlux, beat-up, dusty blue car, which, guessing from the rolled-down windows and the sweaty form that emerges, apparently lacks AC. The two L.A. hellcats, who are about to go on tour with three additional band members, just released their second CD, Monument to the Masses. But I’m here to have a little sit-down with them about their style, not music. They were ’80s when ’80s wasn’t cool. What’s next? And what’s up with those baggy pants?
L.A. WEEKLY:What would you call your style?
ANDERSON (to Ebert): Yeah, what would you call this? ’Cause you look incredible right now.
EBERT: I love this. I call this “the real deal” right here. This outfit [mesh tank and shorts] I wear a lot, ’cause I’m constantly hot. My AC doesn’t work.
Where do you find your clothes?
EBERT: In weird, exotic places. I’m not all that well traveled, but I got this shirt in Tokyo, and I got these shorts at a Goodwill.
Any place in L.A. you like to shop?
ANDERSON: Most stuff I own I’ve found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market — that place is a gold mine. I usually bring two pairs of pants on the road: one black, one gray. Mostly, I look for pants that’ll dry overnight. We sweat a lot.
EBERT: We sweat more than other bands. I wish I had a store I was excited about. I don’t shop very much. I let things happen. People give me stuff; girls will bring stuff over.
Who inspires your look?
ANDERSON: I’d like to give a shout-out to my homie Jeffrey, who’s on Project Runway now.
EBERT: Yeah, he made it really far . . .
ANDERSON: He’s dope. I’ve always seen him as this soft-spoken dude hanging around our circle, on the outside, really quiet. Then I see him on the show and he’s like . . .
EBERT: . . . an asshole.
ANDERSON: The most outspoken prick, standing up for himself. He’s like a total jerk. I love him. I think he’s amazing. I like his style and the way he dresses.
What about you, Alex?
EBERT: I don’t know, man. There’s not a person. I like things that are disowned — things that I find, things that push my envelope in weird ways. Lately I’ve been really into dressing badly. Like really badly, not even cool bad. Kind of in that nether region between really bad and so bad it’s good. Like heads-are-turning-and-people-are-laughing-at-me bad.
What about the MC Hammer pants everyone talks about you wearing?
EBERT: First of all, I’m into dancing and the way things look when you’re dancing. Skintight is great for dancing, but you can get away with a lot more with baggy pants on. They make it look easier, and the MC Hammer pants fall into that. I’ve been compared to an Aladdinesque person — the pants remind me of that.
Funny. They are more like Aladdin pants — more desert sheik than ’80s hip-hop.
EBERT: You’re right, they are Aladdin pants; they’re actually not MC Hammer pants at all. They came straight from Morocco. Some dude gave them to me.
ANDERSON: Somebody said “MC Hammer pants” once and it’s gotten a lot of mileage.
EBERT: I had MC Hammer pants when I was younger — they’re a cousin to the beach-bum pants. You know, the kind that are sweatpants but tight at the bottom, as seen on the fanny-pack wearers and Muscle Beach guys.
ANDERSON: The German tourists staying in the hotels in Santa Monica?
But you’re into skinny pants, Timmy. Nobody but Alex is into big pants.
EBERT: I like big pants.
ANDERSON: I don’t choose too consciously. Our friend Angel started a skateboard-clothing company called Crew, and he gives us tons of free shit. I like his skinny jeans a lot.
If you could raid somebody’s closet, whose would you raid?
ANDERSON: I’d raid Alex’s.
EBERT: I might go through Prince’s closet for the hell of it, even though everything would be too small for me.
If you could be the poster children for anything, what would it be?
ANDERSON: Laser tag.
EBERT: I wouldn’t mind being the spokesperson for Wet Ones. The kind with that travel pack — antibacterial and regular — ’cause there are parts you don’t want to put antibacterial on.
Any bad ’80s fad you’d love to see come back?
EBERT: Well, they’re not from the ’80s, but I want to see Cross Colours blossom again. ’Cause that stuff [baggy jeans and urban-message T-shirts] was truly ugly.
ANDERSON: What about Hypercolor?
EBERT: Hypercolor [that brand of clothes that changed color as you changed temperature] was dope. It’s hard to find. [The fabric stopped changing color if you washed it in water that was too hot, so there aren’t many pieces left that still work.]
ANDERSON: You know what I’d love to find? A pair of LA Gears with the lights on the sole.
What about your hair? I read somewhere that you were no longer “rocking the mullet-fishbowl hybrid” thing. It’s still kind of mullet-y . . .
EBERT: The mullet fishbowl was a haircut I had for the first record. It felt kind of prince-y — not Prince the artist, just any kind of prince. It felt regal, and I just like that, so it remains in some kind of form. I cut it myself with scissors.
Do you have stage costumes? Would you wear today’s outfit onstage?
EBERT: No. I would never wear shorts onstage ’cause of the whole dancing thing. A guy in shorts dancing onstage just doesn’t look that dope. Girls dancing in shorts? Now, that’s the best . . . Hmmm, for some reason, dancing in shorts is starting to sound bad-good to me now. I just haven’t pushed that part of my envelope yet . . . but I’m sure I will at some point.?
Ima Robot’s latest release,Monument to the Masses,is on store shelves now — get ’em while they’re hot. And check out their new video for Creeps Me Out at myspace.com/?imarobot.