Haven’t thrown one of these up in a while. In case you forgot, Cornuzine was a website I used to do. These interviews were the only redeeming part.
His parents gave him the name Fritjof Jacobsen, but in 1994 this jaunty Norwegian chap rechristened himself Biff Malibu (after the porn actor) and formed the flashy hard rock combo Gluecifer with a few of his pals. Biff’s light, saucy vocal delivery pleasantly punctuated the slew of excellent albums Gluecifer released during their eleven year run. In 2003, I got the chance to chat with the bescarfed front man, which was an experience beyond thrilling for this drooling fan boy. Continue reading to discover what the self-described “scheming dildo” has to say about Norwegian history, the Foo Fighters, and that lady from Sleepless In Seattle.
BIFF MALIBU SPEAKS OF ROCK, MEG RYAN
JAMES GREENE, JR: For a Norwegian singer, you have a pretty good handle on the English language. Explain this phenomenon, please.
BIFF MALIBU: Musicality I guess, or maybe more likely the fact that we Scandihoooligans are taught english in school from we are nine ’til we are 18.
JG2: Nine ’til you’re eighteen? What’s the reasoning behind that?
BM: Probably to prime us for an international career in rock and roll, or maybe the fact that Norway is such a small country that we need to know English because no one is willing to learn Norwegian.
JG2: No one wants to learn their native language?
BM: Oay, to be serious…Norway has a population of four million people. We speak Norwegian, a language very similar to Swedish and Danish. Norway has for hundreds of years had a strong bond with [the] U.K.—not strange, since we used to be a big shipping nation. Since our country is so small, I guess someone figured out many years ago that it was important to learn foreign language in order to do trade, etc. In the late 1800s, thousands of Norwegians emigrated to [the] U.S.A. I guess the bond with English and American people were strengthened during World War II.
JG2: I see.
BM: Since the war, all kids have been taught English in school. Today, I would say that almost everyone you’ll meet here has English as their second language, but don’t get me wrong—in our daily life we speak and write Norwegian. It’s just that here, and in the other Scandi countries for that matter, the proficiency in English language is very high, especially compared to the bigger euro countries like France or Germany.
JG2: Interesting. We don’t really have a second language here, generally speaking.
BM: For our part in Gluecifer, we have spent so much time abroad…that I guess our English has been maintained very well. I myself am also married to a girl who has an American dad, so I speak English a lot, and also read most books in that language.
JG2: Cool. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t your latest effort Basement Apes debut at #4 on the Billboard charts in Scandanavia? Has this success changed the mighty rock machine that is Gluecifer?
BM: We debuted at #2, actually, and stayed in the top forty for several weeks. It was very cool, as it enabled us to play more cities and to more people here in Norway. It hasn’t really changed the machine though, maybe just given it a little more financial lubrication. That was welcome, of course.
JG2: Didn’t you guys just open for the Foo Fighters? How was that?
BM: Foo Fighters were really nice guys. Thay gave us tons of booze and beer and real red carpet treatment. The show itself was okay—felt a little weird playing a sports arena—but I guess we can get used to that if we have to.
JG2: That’s cool. I touched Dave Grohl’s knee once. So, the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was last week. Is there any band you think the Hall needs to induct next year? Anyone you think they shouldn’t have inducted this year?
BM: I don’t care too much about this Hall of Fame thing. I’ve been to the museum in Cleveland, and although some of it was pretty cool, I think looking at Kurt Cobain’s sweater or Pete Townshend’s old socks is far away from rock. If you are talking in terms of underrated bands or artists, Roky Erickson is the first name that comes to my mind.
JG2: Good ol’ Roky. You once famously sang that you were sick of watching TV ’cause “they’re always showing Prong.” Do they really show a lot of Prong on TV where you live, or do you just not like Prong? Explain your lyric, please!
BM: When we wrote that song, someone had just dragged me to a Prong show. I disliked it strongly. But, to be honest, I think the main reason for using the word Prong was that I had to rhyme something with “schlong.”
JG2: Got it. When exactly was the year of Manly Living? 1978?
BM: Every year since we started Gluecifer in ’94 has been a year of manly living.
JG2: How did “Leather Chair” end up in Kate & Leopold?
BM: Beats me. We just got noticed in an e-mail and received a check. Haven’t seen the movie. Is it any good?
JG2: Oh, I have no idea.
BM: Meg Ryan spell a little too much like Xanax for my taste.
JG2: Did you just say Meg Ryan spell a little too much like Xanax? I don’t…
BM: Haven’t you seen that perpetual blissful look on her face?
BM: It has to be pharmaceuticals!
– Cornuzine.com, 3/19/03
This was one of the more high-profile interviews I conducted for Cornuzine in the sense that Evan Farmer’s biggest role (at the time and to date) was that of Young Number Two in the third Austin Powers movie, which had been out for less than a month when I contacted him. I don’t know if that meant Cornuzine’s stature was growing (ha) or if Evan just wasn’t considered a very important part of the Mike Myers promotion machine. I guess when you play half the characters in your own movie, there’s no need for any of the other actors to do a lot of press.
At any rate, I thought Evan was great in Goldmember, just as I thought he was great in the MTV boy band spoof “2Gether” and as host of TLC’s redecorating bonanza “While You Were Out” from 2003 to 2006. Ev’s got plenty going on these days, including being a dad, building planes, flying planes, launching production enterprises, doing tons of charity stuff, and still being cable TV’s dreamiest handyman hunk. If you don’t believe me, check out his website.
Evan was a super friendly guy when I talked to him, putting up with idiotic questions few celebrities should have to endure. I hereby dub him the coolest reality show host I’ve ever interviewed.
EVAN FARMER MIGHT DIE THIS SUMMER
JAMES GREENE, JR: You play Young Number Two in the latest Austin Powers movie. Is that your voice we’re hearing, or did Robert Wagner overdub your lines? If that’s you, you do a damn good Robert Wagner.
EVAN FARMER: That’s me, and thank you!
JG2: How did you land the new Austin Powers? Did you just try out, or did you have an in?
EF: I actually went over to meet with casting about another character they thought I might be right for (the young Dr. Evil, I think) and as soon as I walked in they were like, “There’s our Rob Lowe!” The next day, they had me meet with Jay Roach and that was it. I studied both Rob Lowe’s and Robert Wagner’s Number Two-isms from the previous two movies the night before, and apparently that sealed it.
JG2: There’s a track on your new solo album, the name of which escapes me, entitled “I Think I Might Die This Summer.” That’s a bit macabre, don’t you think? Do you actually fear for your life this summer?
EF: Yes, and yes! The story behind that song is that last September I was preparing to shoot Return to Sleepaway Camp in Upstate New York (for which I wrote the song) when the whole 9/11 thing happened and the shoot was essentially indefinitely canceled. Since I was putting together an album of mostly stuff I had written over the years, I just threw it in. As far as fearing for my life, I live with the knowledge of death always on my mind. It sounds pretty sick, I know, but knowing we’re only here for a finite period of time reminds me to live bigger in each moment.
JG2: Return To Sleepaway Camp? Would that be the fourth one in the series?
EF: Technically it’s only the second “official” sequel, though three have been attempted since—at least as I understand it. In any event, this is the sequel that has been written and is being done by the original writer / director.
JG2: Word up. According to various wire reports, you were born in Ethiopia. What up with that?
EF: I guess you could say I’m African-American. I was also born in a Fiat garage which most people don’t know. Simple story—I’m a military baby.
JG2: So who’s your favorite member of N’Sync? I like Joey because he’s totally sweet.
EF: Yeah, I have to agree with you on that one, I suppose. He’s pretty damn sweet. I still like Marky Mark though. Wait, is he in N’SYNC?
JG2: No, you’re thinking of Marky Ramone. Evan Farmer, did you lose your shirt on this whole Worldcom fiasco?
EF: Shirt, no…pants, thong, and knee-highs? Well, let’s just say nothing’s silk anymore.
JG2: Describe the strangest celebrity encounter you’ve had.
EF: I think Pink might have grabbed my ass once, but it could have been one of the guys in 2gether. We were taking a picture.
JG2: Damn! Does Evan Farmer have a favorite Mexican entrée? If so, what is it?
EF: I tend to favor the black bean in any of its incarnations.
JG2: Evan, you’ve been on the MTV. Is it true what Dire Straits once sang? You get your money for nothin’ and your chicks for free? If not, please explain.
EF: Money for nothing—I can agree with. Anybody who says chicks are for free is either not interested in chicks or is selling you something. There’s always a price, and I’m not talking money! I love women, and more importantly I respect them enough to know that you have to be willing to sacrifice for them. Enough said.
JG2: Finally, uh, what do you think of Evan Dando?
EF: Lemonheads…right on! I’m a big fan. Haven’t seen them in concert though—yet.
JG2: Who do you think is nuttier, Dando or Axl?
EF: Axl, are you kidding?
– Cornuzine.com, 8/11/02
I used to do a website called Cornuzine. These are the interviews from it.
I’ve always been a big fan of “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast,” and I attempted to inject some of that “far out” humor into this interview with actor Stuart Fratkin. I’m not sure it worked. Judge for yourself.
STUART FRATKIN SHARES A MOMENT
It’s hard to say what role defined Stuart Fratkin. Was it his turn as the conniving Stiles in Teen Wolf Too? Perhaps his interpretation of Dash in Valet Girls helped to make Fratkin a household name. Personally, I think Stuart’s professional zenith came playing straight man Abe to Dean Cameron’s wild n’ crazy Bo in the syndicated TV gem “They Came From Outer Space,” a tale of two alien brothers from the planet Crouton who crash-land on Earth for Spring Break (although some would argue that Stuart’s two guest shots on “Judging Amy” brought him more attention than that entire series). I recently had a brief conversation with Stuart over lattes at a little out-of-the-way coffee shop just east of Hamburg. Here is the transcript of that faithful meeting.
JAMES GREENE, JR: Tell me a little about your company P-Wing Productions. What exactly do you do? When did it start? Has it been your main gig as of late?
STUART FRATKIN: P-Wing Productions was born out of the necessity to have a tax shelter when I started doing steady work. I started it in 1989 right before “Outer Space.” It was very popular in the late 80’s for actors to have production companies so they wouldn’t have to pay as much in taxes. The tax laws have changed since then.
JG2: And the name?
SF: At the time, Dean Cameron and I were big fans of the Mario Bros. games and played them endlessly in Canada while we were shooting Ski School. There was a prize in Mario 3 called a P-Wing. If Mario attained it, he got to fly through the level untouched. I liked what it meant and stood for.
JG2: I can dig it [sips mocha fudge]. “They Came From Outer Space” was easily my favorite program when I was a youth. As far as I’m concerned, the comic teaming of Fratkin and Cameron was golden. Did you feel the chemistry right away? Did you think to yourself when you met Mr. Cameron, “Man, this is awesome! I have to make a movie about ski instructors with this guy!”?
SF: Here’s the scoop on Dean and I. I was a Dean Cameron fan long before I worked with him. When he became famous from Summer School, I was very impressed with his talent and knew he had a very natural comic timing. I heard plenty about him from my agents and had many funny run-ins with him at auditions. One time I was waiting to read for a FOX pilot called “Babes.” I was outside preparing when Dean finishes and walks out, right up to a trash dumpster, throws the script in and proclaims, “Won’t be needing this anymore.” It was honest and to the point.
I went in for [Dave in] Ski School. I liked it, he was the only character written with any, uhhh, comedy, so I worked very hard and thought I gave a great audition. I get a call from my agent and he says they made an offer to Dean Cameron, would I be interested in playing another role. I say, “No.” I’m really mad, because I thought this movie had the potential to be an Animal House on slopes and Dean got the best part. I get a call from the “Producers/Writers” [makes quotation signs with hands] saying they want me to play Fitz and I will help them write it.
So, after thinking it could be fun in Canada and working with Dean, I said yes. The first time I met Dean, I saw him at the airport and he remarked, “Welcome to Ski Stool.” A very Dean welcome. We went on to write several scenes and became friends. We read for “They Came From Outer Space” together, and both got the job.
JG2: Crazy, man. Dean is such a cut-up. Speaking of Ski School, why exactly weren’t you in Ski School 2?
SF: I was told I was not in Ski School 2 because they couldn’t afford both me and Dean. However, I was bummed not to be asked. How could you have Ski School 2 without Fitz or Ed???!!
JG2: You can’t. It’s utter bullshit. It gives me a migraine just thinking about it [sneezes, wipes on sleeve]. You played Stiles in Teen Wolf Too. How did it feel stepping into a role that had already been made famous by Jerry Levine? Were you intimidated at all?
SF: No, I was not intimidated by taking over for Jerry Levine, I figured I was very different then Jerry and would bring something original to the role. When I do meet people who have seen TWT, they never say anything about the two Stileses. TWT could have been much better, and dare I say better than the original, but they cut a lot of comedy to up the romance quotient between Jason [Bateman] and Estee [Chandler]. Boring. It ended up being a snooze-fest, but a great story for interviews in the future, [begins shouting] HOW THE PRODUCERS OF TEEN WOLF TOO PISSED ON THEIR SHOES AND FUCKED UP THEIR MOVIE.
JG2: [after a brif, uncomfortable pause] Whoa. Yeah, uh, I never thought that one was as good as the original. So, what’s in Mr. Fratkin’s CD player right now?
SF: I love XTC, so I always have something loaded – right now, it’s Wasp Star and Nonsuch. [Also] Incubus and Puddle of Mudd. Oh yeah, John Mayer as well.
JG2: Hmmm, no Foreigner. I’m shocked [laughs hard]. So when is Mr. Fratkin returning to “Judging Amy”?
SF: I should return sometime this season, and please stop calling me Mr. Fratkin. Stuart’s just fine. Ya make me feel like some kind of Bob Hopeish guy.
JG2: Sorry, Stu.
SF: [getting irritated] It’s Stuart, not Stu. I hate Stu!
JG2: Whoa, you’re vibin’ man, it’s cool [looks at watch]. Oh man, I’ve got to be in Berlin by nine. Thanks for the chat, Stuart. You’re a class act.
SF: [clearly still irritated] Thanks, James!
– Cornuzine.com, 12/2/02
Cornuzine [korn-yew-zeen] -noun. 1. A subpar Internet music magazine created by JG2 in 1999; folded 2003. 2. The best-selling foot ointment in outer Uzbekistan.
I think the intro I originally wrote for this piece is pretty solid, so I’m gonna leave it be. As for the interview itself, my only regret is not pressing Lee harder about the failure of the MD.45 project. What can I say? I was star-struck (in my world, this guy is like Bruce Willis).
JG2 GETS SCHOOLED BY LEE VING
Countless rumors surround Lee Ving, mysterious frontman for punk agitators Fear. Is he the bastard son of one of the Bowery Boys? Did he actually get his start as a singing waiter? Did he really schtup Madeline Kahn on the set of Clue? None of that came up in our interview. Instead, I focused on the real issues – Flea, beer, and that infamous appearance on “Saturday Night Live.”
JAMES GREENE, JR: I seem to recall reading something recently about a FEAR box set. Is this a reality or just a figment of my imagination? At any rate, what is the current state of Fear?
LEE VING: Box set in progress, state of Fear very strong.
JG2: Is the box set going to contain any Fear rarities, like “Hank Williams Was Queer?”
LV: No. All Barbara Streisand tunes.
JG2: A-ha. Many interesting characters have passed through the ranks of Fear. One such character was Flea. How exactly did that happen?
LV: By luck.
JG2: Did it have anything to do with the film you two made, Dudes?
JG2: Do you still keep in touch with him?
JG2: It’s my understanding that you played some acoustic gigs recently. Have you ever considered doing a whole acoustic solo record?
LV: Yes, [that’s] in the works.
JG2: What do you make of this whole Dead Kennedys fracas?
LV: Who are they? What fracas?
JG2: Who are the Dead Kennedys? Oh, c’mon, Mr. Ving, surely you jest.
LV: I’m into music, not Frisco scene rabble.
JG2: Ouch. You did a record with Dave Mustaine a few years back called MD.45. How did that come about? Was it ever intended to be more than a side project?
JG2: Do I sense some animosity here?
LV: No, Capital [Records] just made sure the project failed.
JG2: I’ve been trying to avoid the cliché Fear questions, but after all these years, I am still fascinated by your appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” They show so many embarrassing and controversial moments from other episodes in syndication constantly, yet Fear’s wild performance they never rebroadcast. Why is that? I mean, did Lorne Michaels just throw the tapes away or something? Is NBC just a bunch of pricks?
LV: They are timid, lacking humor, and scared of their own shadows.
JG2: I agree. Mr. Ving, you like the beer. Is there any particular brand you just can’t stomach?
JG2: Have you seen Chuck Biscuits lately? No one seems to know where he is.
LV: I don”t know that name.
JG2: Chuck Biscuits…he was in Black Flag, D.O.A., uh, FEAR at one point, I believe…anyway, Gibby Haynes once stated, “It’s better to regret something you have done than something you haven’t done.” Would you agree with this philosophy?
JG2: Alrighty! Are there any musicians out there today that you’d really like to collaborate with?
LV: Yes. Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, and Stanley Clark.
JG2: Man, that would be some fucked up shit right there. Chick Corea alone…well, Mr. Ving, thanks for your time.
LV: All the best, man. Jazz forever.
– Cornuzine.com, 2000
Sure, I could write a bunch of flowery shit about how great 1980s B movie icon Dean Cameron is, but I think this affectionate Movie Channel promo for Ski School hits most of the important notes:
“Women love Dean Cameron.” That’s true. “Men want to party with him, or destroy him.” Also true. He has an “effortless, non-threatening charm.” Jeez, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
The only thing this ancient commercial left out was funny. Dean Cameron is naturally, wonderfully, amazingly funny, not only in movies (like Rockula and Summer School and Men At Work) but also in print. The actor’s website is rife with hilarious blog entries and work recollections.
The interview below, which originally appeared on my ramshackle entertainment review website Cornuzine, is a great example of how chuckle-worthy Dean can be off-the-cuff. It’s probably my favorite of the interviews I conducted for Cornuzine (mostly because of the Eddie Vedder anecdote).
KICKIN’ IT WITH DEAN CAMERON
JAMES GREENE, JR: So you played bass in [a band called] the Ducks, not to be confused with the Ducky Boys, correct? Just how long have you been molesting the four stringed beast, and how did you end up in the Ducks?
DEAN CAMERON: In ninth grade, Tammy Moore liked guys who played guitar and really liked this guy who could play “Stairway To Heaven,” so I started playing guitar. I learned “Stairway To Heaven” about six months later. I always liked the bass more than guitar and, during the guitar wars of the eighties, I decided that I didn’t have enough time to practice all the scales over and over and over and over again just to play Yngwie solos, so I did what any lazy fuck would do: I made bass my main instrument. In the early nineties, I started going to a friend’s club every Sunday night and playing in these sort of pickup bands. We’d learn ten songs by a certain band and then play them the following week. One of the guitar players was Russ Parrish. He went on to play guitar in Fight, the band Rob Halford started. After that ended for him, he started the Ducks, a nifty power pop trio. Back in ’98, he needed a bassist for a week when his regular bassist wasn’t available, so I played with them for a week. It was really fun for me. Last year, they needed another bass player, so I’m doing that. From looking at your site, I think you’d hate us.
JG2: How could I hate anything involving Chainsaw? I’ve heard you’re a fan of King’s X. Have they had any influence on your technique? Who else has influenced the mighty fingers of Dean Cameron?
DC: From King’s X, I learned that it’s okay to play with a pick, use down strokes as much as possible, and that really good bands go unnoticed. Their sound really hit me hard. Those harmonies with that heaviness underneath it was stunning. They’re still around, touring, happy and great. I’ve become friends with them in the last few years and their tenacity is inspiring. I grew up loving all the overplaying rock virtuosos – Chris Squire, Geddy Lee. I’m over all that now. Root, fifth, repeat.
JG2: Just who authored the rap you performed in Rockula? Was it you? Are you a fan of those block-rockin’ beats? Do you like any rap at all?
DC: I wrote the lyrics to “Rapula.” One of things I’m most proud of in my life is “you can read the commentary by William Safire/he’s the d.j., I’m the vampire.” I listened to nothing but the first NWA record for about six months when it came out. I like the Marshall Mathers LP. Is that stupid?
JG2: Naw. My mother really likes “Will & Grace,” but I’m not too familiar with it. Whom did you portray on that program?
DC: I had a tiny part as a guy who was nervous about asking another guy to marry him. I kissed Woody Harrelson, but they cut it out. It was a miniscule part.
JG2: Do you ever talk to [your Ski School co-star] Stuart Fratkin anymore?
DC: Yes, quite often. He has two children and a wife. I, on the other hand, have only just learned how to sustain a relationship with a woman over two years.
JG2: If I wrote the script for Ski School 3, would you guys reunite?
DC: I would want a lot of money. If I’m going to whore out, I want to really whore out.
JG2: Noted. Share your oddest celebrity encounter please.
DC: When I was at the premiere party for the movie Singles, Eddie Vedder was wasted out of his mind and being sort of dragged down this long hallway by his “handlers.” It was really stupid rock star bullshit so I yelled out, “NICE TO SEE YOU HANDLING SUCCESS SO WELL, EDDIE!” He heard me, looked right at me and tried to stand up and say something. He couldn’t. It seemed like this weird, lucid moment for him.
JG2: Speaking of Pearl Jam, are you by chance related to their current drummer/former Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron?
DC: No. I wrote a song called “Chris Cornell,” though. I’ll never be as cool as Chris Cornell.
JG2: Aw, he ain’t all that. You played Jeff Spicoli on the TV version of Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Have you ever met Sean Penn, and if so, did he critique your performance of the character he made famous?
DC: Coincidentally, we studied with the same acting teacher. He wasn’t really in class when I was, but would drop by, watch, and intimidate the holy fuck out of everyone. I knew him peripherally; enough to say hi. I doubt that he’d remember me now. I heard through friends that he was glad I was the guy who got the Spicoli gig. Maybe my friends were just being nice.
JG2: Whose side are you taking in the whole Limp Bizkit/Wes Boreland split?
DC: I don’t know anything about this. What is it?
JG2: Well, uh, that one dude in Limp Bizkit asked the guitarist Wes why he was wearing Birkenstocks all of a sudden, and he freaked out and quit. No, I’m kidding. Actually, Wes claims he woke up one day and said he felt like a sell-out, so he quit. The rest of Limp Bizkit is going around the country to Guitar Centers trying to find a new guitarist.
DC: Thanks for the Limp Bizkit/Wes lesson. Has the Wes guy returned all of the money?
JG2: Probably not. I will forgo a final question so that you may plug away at whatever it is you are currently involved in.
DC: I helped develop a nifty web service called tightcircle. I co-wrote a movie that got made called Hollywood Palms. Maybe someday it will come out. Besides that, I’m trying to figure out if the acting career is in a slump or if it’s just over and I wasn’t notified. If I figure it out, I’ll post it on deancameron.com.
JG2: Well, there’s always Ski School 3 (fingers crossed).
– Cornuzine.com, 2002
The other day I found myself watching the trailer for Mickey Rourke’s Wrestler movie (or Oscar Bait 9000: Chummin’ For Pure Gold, as I like to call it). Early in the clip I spotted bald nebbish and pride of Comedy Central Todd Barry. Todd is, in my rarely trusted opinion, one of the funniest human beings on the planet. I have believed this since at least 2003, the year I interviewed him for my silly, irrelevant website.
My back and forth with Todd wasn’t the most insightful or mind-blowing exchange ever featured on Cornuzine, but I did manage to squeeze a David Lee Roth story out of the bastard as well as one reference to the “paisley underground.” That’s gotta count for something. Barry fans, soak in this long-lost transcript (complete with vintage 2003 introduction) from your hero and mine, Mr. Medium Energy.
A MEDIUM ENERGY CHAT WITH TODD BARRY
Comedian Todd Barry is probably best remembered for either A) his stint as the wise-cracking video store clerk on “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist” or B) that infamous appearance on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” in which he candidly responded to the Internet nerds who were trashing him on alt.fan.conan-obrein. Now that I’ve conducted this interview, though, I’ll always know Todd as the rock steady Chant drummer who hates the phrase “but I digress” (which unfortunately is some shit I say all the time).
JAMES GREENE, JR: I was just reading an interview in which you revealed that you play the drums and were once in a fairly popular band in Florida. What band was that? It wasn’t New Found Glory, was it?
TODD BARRY: I was not in New Found Glory. I was in a band called the Chant. If you poke around the Internet, you can find an album we put out called Three Sheets to the Wind. It features my “rock steady” drumming.
JG2: From whom did the Chant draw most of their influence?
TB: The guys who started the band were really into R.E.M. and other bands that were sometimes said to be part of the paisley underground movement, whatever that means. But I guess we were sort of a garagey, guitar-based band.
JG2: Are you into the Feelies at all?
TB: I have a Feelies record that I’ve neglected to listen to. I’ve also seen them live a few times.
JG2: Regarding the whole newsgroup-bashing thing on “Late Night”—were there any reservations about going into all that on the air from either you or show?
TB: They were fine with it, and so was I. Other people weren’t so happy, though.
JG2: So I heard. Who’s the nuttiest celebrity you’ve ever encountered? Do you have any crazy celeb stories?
TB: David Lee Roth was in the audience at the Comedy Cellar in New York City one night. He hung out in the restaurant above the club and bought drinks for all the comics. I told him I saw Van Halen open for the Rolling Stones in Orlando. He told me he had sex with a woman under the stage there.
JG2: That’s insane. I was actually going to ask you a question about David Lee Roth. I just got done reading his book, Crazy From The Heat. Have you read that?
TB: I have not read his book, but I will say he was a great audience member and he’s hilarious on talk shows.
JG2: He’s hilarious in general. Say, do you detest anything outright? Like, is there anything where people would say, “Oh man, don’t bring that up in front of Todd!”?
TB: I don’t like when people say “but I digress.” I just read an article in a Cleveland magazine where the guy used that term. It makes my skin crawl. Also when people call a refrigerator “the fridge.” That makes me want to murder people. I don’t know why.
JG2: So I guess there’s little talk of William Perry in your household. Well, I gotta go. Thanks a lot, Todd.
– Cornuzine.com, 4/28/03
Cornuzine was a website I used to do. These interviews were the only redeeming part.
I don’t remember the exact moment I realized flamboyant rapper Humpty Hump and his nondescript Digital Underground partner Shock G were one in the same, but it certainly came as a major shock to my young, partially rap-addled mind. How often does anyone (particularly anyone in the music world) successfully pull off concealing an alter ego? It’s practically unheard of. Yet this guy did it. He fooled us all. Granted, most of “us” were between the ages of nine and thirteen and still believed we’d get stabbed to death if we chanted “Bloody Mary” a hundred times in our bathrooms with the lights off, but still…the professional rapper fooled us. Shock G and Deep Throat, in a class by themselves.
People were still unsure of the Humpty/Shock connection as late as 1997. That’s the year I got into a serious verbal tussle with the Salutatorian of my senior class over whether or not Humpty Hump was Shock G. This kid was a huge, huge rap fan and he was completely unwilling to believe the “hogwash” I was casually presenting as fact. I’ll admit there wasn’t much evidence beyond the cover of Sex Packets and every music video Digital Underground ever made (whenever you see Shock G in any of those clips, Humpty has his back to the camera), but come on. Use your brain, dude. Besides, I was the Editor-in-Chief of the high school newspaper. I didn’t go around just making stuff up. Surprisingly, this was not the only D.U.-related fight I engaged in that year.
But I digress. While he was pulling a costumed fast one on pop fans and idiots at large, Shock G also helmed one of the greatest party anthems of all-time (“The Humpty Dance”), made an appearance in the creeptacular 1991 Dan Aykroyd comedy Nothing But Trouble, and spent a lot of time hanging out with Tupac Shakur (Shakur was actually in Digital Underground for a little while in the early nineties—but you already knew that, didn’t you?). In 2003, I had the distinct privilege of interviewing the man born Gregory E. Jacobs; during our chat, Shock dropped numerous bombshells—the biggest of which, I always thought, was the fact that Chevy Chase was a nice guy on the set of Nothing But Trouble. Do you think Chevy paid him to say that? Ah, well, at any rate, enjoy my back and forth with this legend of goof rhyme.
SHOCK G JUST GRABS ‘EM IN THE BISCUITS
JAMES GREENE, JR: Tell me, Shock G, do you have to get in character before you become Humpty Hump? Is it a split personality type of thing, like Paul Reubens/Pee Wee Herman, or can you just toss on the nose and glasses and “get stoopid?”
SHOCK G: I really believe a lot of Humpty’s energy, soul, and sense of humor is in the outfit. It’s possessed. Try on a Groucho nose and glasses, a plaid suit, and a big fur hat and you’ll see what I mean. Then light a cigar and put on some hip-hop and it’ll pour right out of you. Try it one Halloween.
JG2: I did try it on Halloween for many years!
SG: I pull a lot from my uncle Tony-Red (a true-life Humpty without the nose), Bootsy Collins, Morris Day, Benny Hill, and Rodney Dangerfield. All the good pervert entertainers.
JG2: Of course. Not too long ago I saw that special on VH-1 about Tupac Shakur (“Thug Angel”). It was really engrossing. Can you tell us something about Tupac Shakur that you’ve never shared with anyone before?
SG: One time in the early nineties, Bronx rapper Tim Dog did a show in San Francisco and afterwards some Frisco cats had him boxed in and were threatening to hurt him up real bad. Had it not been for Pac, Tim may have gotten murdered that night. This was right after Tim Dog’s West Coast diss album came out, but the album specifically dissed Compton and Southern Cali, and Pac felt like Frisco was ridin’ on Tim Dog unfairly and seized an opportunity to show Oakland’s strength as well as show some loyalty to his birthplace, New York City. I think Pac had also kicked it with Tim Dog once or twice back in New York and felt more camaraderie with Tim than he did [with] anonymous Frisco niggaz, and probably felt a little obligated to help him. It was in between Juice and Poetic Justice; Pac was known, but not yet a superstar or heavyweight in the streets. Anyway, that night Pac told Tim and his people to wait inside and drove across the bay to Oakland and came back with an arsenal and escorted Tim safely out of the club and back to his hotel. They straight rescued that cat. Pac became a true heavyweight in the street that night.
JG2: Wow. Loyalty, man, that’s what it’s all about. Speaking of movies, Digital Underground was in the 1991 feature Nothing But Trouble along side Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd. What was that like? Was Chevy Chase an asshole?
SG: Hell no, Chevy Chase wasn’t no asshole, he was the coolest one around us. He used to fall when he walked in the room to make everyone at lunch laugh. He would hang out and make jokes with us occasionally, mingle with the grips and staff. [John] Candy too, sometimes. Demi [Moore] stayed in her trailer most of the time between shots, and Aykroyd was busy directing. Dan Aykroyd is an even cooler cat than Chevy once you meet him.
JG2: How did you guys get that part?
SG: It was Aykroyd who earlier that year came backstage at a D.U. show in Hollywood and sparked a blunt with us to tell us about the film. He really feels and loves Americas blues, R & B, and hip-hop musicians. It was an honor to make it into one of his films like that.
JG2: Sparkin’ a j with Ray Stanz. I can dig it. What’s your take on the current situation with Iraq? Can I assume Humpty is against warfare of any kind?
SG: Yes, I’m still sickened by the U.S.’s historically on-going policy of “bomb the brown people.”
JG2: As am I. Do you still like your oatmeal lumpy?
SG: I stopped eatin’ oatmeal about two years ago when I gave up sugar and dairy products.
JG2: Oh, snap! If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
SG: The Shock G/Piano-Man side of me probably would of pursued a career in cartooning. I love to draw with markers. However, the Humpty side of me would of liked to have given stand up comedy a shot.
JG2: When I first got into Digital Underground, way back in, oh, say 1990, I was fascinated by Humpty’s false nose and the back story surrounding it. I seem to recall some urban legend about the Hump Man rapping so hard in a nightclub that the roof caved in. Can you recount that story for us?
SG: Smooth Eddie Humphrey was a lounge singer by night and a chef by day back in Tampa during the late eighties until a freak accident gave him first and third degree burns to his face and neck. A water pipe burst and struck him in the back of the head, forcing his nose into a deep-fry grease vat with his neck jammed against the vat’s edge, permanently damaging his throat and historically giving him his signature nasal voice. With his singing career destroyed, he then went through a year or so period of depression and heavy drinking until his half-brother Shock G invited him to rap with Digital Underground (at least according to our 1990 press release).
JG2: I’m gonna be tellin’ that story to my gran’kids. Shock G, what does the G stand for?
SG: Gregory. My mother had a crush on the dancer/actor Gregory Hines when she was a kid.
JG2: Who didn’t? That guy was straight-up dreamy. Alright, G, I gotsta be steppin’. Thank you a thousand percent for your time.
SG: Thanks for the opportunity to share this.
– Cornuzine.com, 2/7/03
What can you say about Harry Shearer? He co-created Spinal Tap, wrote and performed on “Saturday Night Live,” had a memorable cameo in Wayne’s World 2, appeared in the 1994 Martin Short / Danny Glover comedy Pure Luck, and played Murray Sports in The Fish That Saved Pittsburg. On top of all that, Harry’s been with “The Simpsons” since the show began, giving life to such beloved characters as Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Principal Skinner, Lenny Leonard, Ranier Wolfcastle, and Kent Brockman.
In short, the man in a legend. So what the hell was Harry Shearer doing talking to me and my small-time waste of bandwidth five years ago?
I have no idea. I guess Harry’s just one of those celebrities you’d call “fan friendly.” That worked out in Cornuzine’s benefit, providing my rinky-dink website with its most prominent interview subject ever. So hats off to Harry Shearer. Hopefully this interview didn’t lead to whispers of slumming or his star fading. Read on to learn about Harry’s musical leanings, what he remembers of his experiences on “Leave It To Beaver” (Shearer played Eddie Haskell in the pilot episode), and who in his opinion was the weirdest “Simpsons” guest star.
HARRY SHEARER: HANDSOME DAN & BEYOND
JAMES GREENE JR: You don’t strike me as the type of guy who particularly enjoys heavy metal. Do you have any appreciation for it (beyond its unintentional ridiculousness) or has it always seemed like a really bad joke to you?
HARRY SHEARER: More of the latter, although it is fun to play.
JG2: Mmm. When I was watching the “Inside The Actors Studio” with the cast of “The Simpsons,” I couldn’t help but notice that Julie Kavner wasn’t around for the second half of the show. Did she get sick or something?
HS: She had a train to catch. The taping ran almost six hours.
JG2: Six hours?!? That’s insane! Did it irk you at all, sitting their for that long talking as Ranier Wolfcastle and the like, or did you enjoy it?
HS: Irked and enjoyed, at different points in the proceedings.
JG2: I was reading on your website that you were banned from the Fox News Channel because of your book It’s The Stupidity, Stupid. I hadn’t heard anything about this. Care to explain just what happened?
HS: It’s a long story, but, in an interview on MSNBC (what was I thinking?), they bumped to commercial with a quote from the book comparing Dick Morris’ proclivity for sucking hookers’ toes (remember that?) to his working for Rupert Murdoch. Either Roger Ailes or his number one flunky saw that, took great offense (although Morris also works for Murdoch’s New York Post), and had my pending appearances to discuss the book on FNC cancelled.
JG2: That’s totally lame. The Dick Morris thing isn’t even that controversial. What a pisser. Moving on – you screen tested for the role of Eddie Haskell. Do you have any idea why they didn’t pick you? You couldn’t have been that bad, because you did end up on one or two episodes of “Leave It To Beaver,” didn’t you?
HS: I don’t think I ever did any episodes of “Beaver,” and I don’t know whether I wasn’t picked or whether my parents, after I shot the pilot, decided it was a bad idea for me to co-star in a show. I know they felt that way, but I don’t know whether they withdrew me from consideration.
JG2: Did they not want you to miss your childhood or get completely warped from being on a t.v. show that young?
HS: They didn’t want me to costar in a show. They were cool with me working occasionally.
JG2: Ah. One of the highlights of Wayne’s World 2 was your appearance as Handsome Dan. I could literally watch that part for hours. I’d go so far as to say that made me laugh harder than any part of This Is Spinal Tap. How does that make you feel? I mean, do people ever tell you that they love Handsome Dan?
HS: Yeah, somebody’s told me about loving virtually everything I’ve done. That one was kind of weird, because it involved reprising, in a slimmed down way, a sketch I’d done years earlier on SNL, and I always feel weird repeating myself that way. I always feel weird repeating myself that way.
JG2: On “The Simpsons,” do you ever record your voice work along side the guest stars? If so, have there been any memorable exchanges between yourself and one of the show’s guests?
HS: Usually the guests show up on their own schedule. Weirdest one to show up with us was, natch, Michael Jackson, who did the speaking part himself, but had an MJ impersonator do the singing in the show. I guess we weren’t paying him enough.
JG2: Of all the people that I’d think would come whenever he pleased…speaking of that business, has anyone ever asked you to call up their kids as Mr. Burns or Ned Flanders for a birthday or anything? Have you ever called someone as a Simpsons character just to screw with their minds?
JG2: Okay! You once stated that you enjoy any bass line Victor Wooten plays. Color me ignorant, but just who is this Victor Wooten? Please, provide me with some quick information on this favorite bass player of yours.
HS: He’s a remarkable player, usually seen with Bela Fleck’s band.
JG2: A Flecktone! You also like the Beatles, don’t you? What do you think of the fact that Paul and Ringo are still out there playing?
HS: Yes, I’m a fan. I think it’s great they’re still playing, what are they supposed to do, write letters to The Times of London?
JG2: Yes, that’s exactly what they’re supposed to do! Finally, was that your real mustache in This Is Spinal Tap?
HS: It was real in the sense that, yes, it was growing on my face at the time.
– Cornuzine.com, 6/3/03
Relayed to me sometime before the preceding interview for a much smaller, less significant feature:
1. McCartney’s on “Lady Madonna”
2. Whoever played with Robert Kraft on “a song for miles”
3. Horace Silver’s bass player on “Senor Blues”
4. Anything Victor Wooten plays
5. George Porter Jr.’s part on The Meters’ “Hey Pocky Way”
Why? Because, as Harry noted, “they swing.”
Welcome to the second installment of “The Cornuzine Interviews” (if you missed the first installment and want to know what the hell’s going on, click here). Today’s subject is Evan Cohen, a man who braved poop, pee, and a lot of other gross bodily fluids as bass player for GG Allin’s back-up band the Murder Junkies.
I first spoke with Evan in 2002; since then, we’ve kept in contact, mainly discussing the latest developments in the Star Wars universe. If you had told me when I was fourteen that I’d be corresponding with a Murder Junkie one day about Jawas and Ewoks, I probably would have laughed in your stupid, ugly face.
By the way, this interview was conducted via e-mail, which is why it reads so smoothly and features none of the patented “likes” or “uhs” that are a staple of my speaking voice.
EVAN COHEN: HE WAS A MURDER JUNKIE
JAMES GREENE, JR: Okay, Evan, now when exactly were you a Murder Junkie? What time period are we talking here?
EVAN COHEN: I was a Murder Junkie in 1993, for [the] last tour and beyond.
JG2: I didn’t see you in the definitive GG Allin documentary Hated.
EC: Then you weren’t paying attention. I was a pallbearer. I’m the only one wearing a suit.
JG2: I guess I wasn’t paying attention…I thought the guy in the suit was Dee Dee Ramone.
EC: Please, never confuse me with Dee Dee Ramone again.
JG2: So was that you on the guitar in that infamous footage of the “last show” in New York where it spills out onto the streets and a near riot ensues?
EC: No, I was the one who videotaped the last show.
JG2: My word. Were you frightened at all?
EC: No. I was scared shitless. I was terrified. But I was never frightened.
JG2: how did you become a Murder Junkie?
EC: When I moved to NYC in the fall of ’92 to go to NYU, the only person I knew in the city was [Furious George’s] George Tabb. We hung out all the time and I met everyone he knew. One of these people was [GG’s brother] Merle Allin. I’d see Merle every now and then, at shows or at parties, and we always got along. In April of ’93, George and I ran into Merle at the now defunct CBGB’s Pizza. Merle was telling George that he was looking for a roadie for the upcoming GG Allin tour. George suggested that he put an ad in the paper for one. Merle didn’t like that idea because he’d end up with some crazed fan that would just end up following GG around and wouldn’t get any work done. That’s when I interjected and volunteered my services. The rest as they say, is history.
JG2: How does Merle Allin differ from his famous brother?
EC: He’s alive.
JG2: Touché. Did GG ever attack you or anything?
EC: No. I had a contract with myself before the tour started. If anything “weird” happened to me personally—like if GG pulled some shit with me, I’d let it slide once. If it happened again, I would have taken the next plane out. As it happened, nothing happened even once. GG never attacked me. Why would he? I was part of the team. I was videotaping shows, selling merchandise, driving some—most importantly, I was doing the job I was hired to do. I was working for and with him, not against him.
JG2: Do you think GG was a prophet of some sort, a performance artist that was ahead of his time, or was he just completely insane?
EC: Prophet, no. Performance artist, no. Completely insane, definitely not. What he WAS….Shit, I’m still trying to figure that out. I know less now than I did before I met him.
JG2: Did you consider him a friend?
EC: Yes I did. But it all happened so fast. I met the guy, two and a half weeks later, I’m on tour with him for a period of three and a half weeks, then two weeks after that I see him again on and off for a week and then he’s dead. Who knows what would have happened had he lived. I’m glad that I got to know him for even a brief period of time, and am glad that I was in his good graces when he died. I think I said that at his funeral. Look at me recycling material.
JG2: You authored a book about your time in the Murder Junkies (I Was a Murder Junkie: The Last Days of GG Allin). Now, how did that work? Did someone approach you to pen the definitive GG memoir, or did you just write it and find a publisher?
EC: I wrote first, asked questions later, then wrote some more.
JG2: Mr. Cohen, riddle me this: how does one go from being a Murder Junkie to being a member of the cartoonish group Furious George?
EC: Lack of good judgement.
JG2: Oh, SNAP! I’ve interviewed George Tabb about [Furious George’s] experiences whilst on the set of Summer Of Sam, but he didn’t offer much insight. Did you get to meet Spike Lee? What’s your most significant memory of that whole experience?
EC: Of course we met him. We auditioned for him, wrote a song for him, and he directed us in three scenes. My favorite memory was in between takes at CB’s. At one point Jennifer Esposito grabbed my by the shoulders…looked into my eyes…drew me to her…and said, “This is so much fun, I want to be in your band!” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it wasn’t really as fun as she thought it was.
JG2: Man, I’d let Jennifer Esposito join my band. She’s a looker.
EC: You ain’t kiddin’ buster. Hey Jennifer, if you’re reading this, I’m single again. You can get my number though Spike’s office. I’m ready to form a band and you can sing for it. We’ll be the only two people in the band and I have the first gig already booked in my bedroom. Call, we’ll talk. By the way, she could be a kick-ass punk singer. She never did it before the movie and took to it instantly. Big ups to Jennifer Esposito.
JG2: You penned the classic Furious George track “Counselor Troi Boy Toy.” Did you ever see that movie Counselor Troi was in where she gets naked? Is that possibly what inspired the song?
EC: Never saw it. Immaturity inspired it. And believe me if you think that’s immature, you should hear its as of yet unrecorded companion piece “Dr. McCoy, Boy Toy,” for the free-thinking menfolk of the world. By the way, I did write the music for “Abduct Me,” you know…
JG2: Indeed, you did. “Abduct Me” is nearly a rock opera compared to “Counselor Troi” or your other classic “Prozac Defense.”
EC: Wow, I think that’s the first time anyone’s referred to my music as “classic.” Even if facetiously.
JG2: Hey, “Prozac Defense” is one of the darkest chord progressions I’ve ever heard in my life.
EC: Thank you very much.
JG2: Why exactly did you leave Furious George?
EC: No dental plan. That, and it wasn’t fun for me anymore.
JG2: I was in New York City on New Year’s Day this year and I went down to CBGB’s and the Gallery section where they sell the t-shirts was closed and they wouldn’t sell me a shirt even though they had one in the window on display. I came all the way from Florida and they wouldn’t sell me a shirt. They told me to order one online. Do you think that’s fucked up?
EC: No, get one online like everyone else.
JG2: Evan Cohen, what’s your opinion of Evan Dando?
EC: I wouldn’t know him if he broke into my apartment and pissed on my rug.
JG2: I wouldn’t put that past him. Evan Dando is the guy who fronted early nineties pop sensation the Lemonheads. They covered “Mrs. Robinson.” He’s almost as nuts as GG.
EC: I mean, I know WHO he is….but that doesn’t mean I know what he looks like. I could care less for the fellow…unless he reads my book and makes public statements about how he thinks it’s the greatest thing this side of Leon Uris. Why yes, I am a hypocrite.
JG2: He looks kind of like he’s homeless. Skinny, stringy brown hair and a bushy beard.
EC: I think that guy sells pot in Washington Square Park.
JG2: Are you involved with anyone musically right now? If so, plug away!
EC: Why yes I am. I have a band called WORSE. Anyone who wants a free CD they can email me at GGBook99@aol.com (what a whore!). Also playing with Furious George again – imagine that. But most importantly, BUY MY BOOK.
JG2: Now hold the phone, chief! I thought you said Furious George wasn’t fun anymore, but you’re back with them? What the dilly, yo?
EC: Lemme give you the 212 on the situation. I quit FG in March of ’99. Wasn’t fun anymore. Stevie replaced me and in the Summer of ’01, he left the band. George needed someone for a gig, and since I knew all the songs….And here I am again. By the way, Stevie has a new band called “Stevie and the Trash.” They’re quite good, and they feature current FG drummer Michael keeping the rhythm.
JG2: All very interesting. Thank you for your time, Evan.
EC: I enjoyed the interview, thank you.
– Cornuzine.com, 2/7/02