Perhaps it's his just his personality — or perhaps it was the Bahama Mama he was sipping — but Abraham was extremely good-natured and forthcoming, chatting with us for roughly an hour about all sorts of things. We talked about Abraham's initial reticence at being on a cruise ship, and his "responsibilities" as cruise director. Then he spilled his Bahama Mama and we ordered him another. Then we talked about his relationship with Jello Biafra, the nature of these high-seas cruises, Fucked Up touring with Foo Fighters, The Desperate Bicycles putting out their DIY 7-inch, how quickly folks turn on new artists, the "MP3 revolution" (or lack thereof), old Nashville new wave and hardcore bands, JEFF the Brotherhood, Thee Oh Sees and more. Read our well-lubricated, 7,000-word chat with Mr. Abraham after the jump. It's a doozy.
DA: So are you guys having fun on this thing so far?
NC: Yeah, it's been a total blast.
DA: It's fucking awesome! I'm having the best time, man.
NC: Did you go last year, just to hang out?
DA: No, I saw the pictures of the artists there and I'm like, “I have no interest in ever doing that.” And then they asked us and I'm like, “I don't wanna,” and my wife’s like,”You gotta do it!” And I'm having the best fucking time. I'm so happy.
NC: Is that consistent with the "I Hate Summer" thing?
DA: Yeah! Like, I just have no interest in tropical climates. I hate beaches. Sand when you're hairy is the worst! It's just like this thing that's gonna bother me for the rest of the evening that's stuck in my fur. So yeah, I don't like beaches, I'm not a big sun guy, but I'm having a super fun time. I think I really enjoy the idea of a festival where it's a communal vibe where people are just hanging out, because ...
NC: You can't leave? [laughs]
DA: Well I'm just so relaxed for this show tonight because I've seen everyone for the past two days. So it's not like playing a normal show where you're playing and are like, “Oh man, what if these people hate me?” If these people hate me, I'm going to see them tomorrow and be like, “Dude, why did you hate me so much?”
NC: A captive audience, right?
DA: Exactly! We know where each other sleep.
NC: Is it more of a summer camp vibe?
DA: Grey Goose gets the girl feeling loose, in the words of Fergie Ferg.
NC: Has the fun been despite the tropical conditions?
DA: No, I actually enjoy — as much as I hate summertime, I kind of hate the idea of summertime as being this unending season of humidity and heat and just not being able to walk anywhere. I love walking in the winter, because you can always get warmer. It's harder to get cooler. Getting warmer is just a matter of adding another layer, whereas getting cooler is a matter of, for me, removing layers, and there's only so many layers you can remove. But that being said, it's February right now in Toronto. It's a little chilly. This is an amazing reprieve from the winter conditions.
NC: Yeah, it's like 76 degrees.
DA: Yeah, exactly!
NC: Room temperature outside.
DA: It's ridiculous. I'm in a hot tub looking out over an ocean, you have to be an asshole not to — even if you don't like the heat — you'd have to be a complete dickhead not to appreciate something of that.
NC: Yeah, like a heroic amount of cynicism.
DA: Yeah, exactly. You'd have to be a pretty dark, cynical person not to kind of get into the vibe going on here.
NC: And aren't you technically director?
DA: Technically cruise director.
NC: What are the responsibilities of cruise director?
DA: I will be introducing the first band tonight. I introduced the bands last night, and I host the Dating Game. And I get my head on the masthead, that's the best thing. I don't really actually do a lot of work. People are like, today, someone's like, “Hey do you know...?” and I'm like, “I have no idea —” [Abraham swipes his arm, accidentally knocking over his parasol-adorned Bahama Mama. He begins to mop it up.] Gotta get another one of these now.
Michelle asked me, and I'm like, “OK, what do I have to do?” She's like, “Umm, nothing, really?” I'm like, “That sounds just like my kind of job.”
NC: Did you have to bring your own tux or did they provide that for you?
DA: I brought my own suit. I didn't get a tux, though. Luckily she's like, “A suit will do.”
NC: Do you have any influences/inspirations on that? The emcee role, like Andrew W.K.?
DA: Andrew W.K.'s definitely like, you know — but I think it's from years of watching the greats. Like Dr. Phil, Maury Povich, you gotta give a shout out to that. And then like Martin Downey Jr. representing the old school, Geraldo Rivera, Sally Jessy Raphael, and my man Phil Donahue.
NC: Jenny Jones?
DA: Yeah, Jenny Jones!
NC: Ricki Lake?
DA: Ricki Lake — I never liked Ricki Lake. It was always kind of like Oprah's trashier neighbor. And Oprah always has like self-help stuff. Maury knows he's sleazy, he's not pretending, whereas Oprah ... not so much Oprah. Dr. Phil! It's equally as sleazy, but he's masquerading as being a doctor.
NC: What about Eric Nies?
DA: I don't know. Who's Eric Nies?
NC: He's from The Grind on MTV in the ’90s.
DA: Oh! We don't have MTV in Canada.
NC: Was it Much Music then?
DA: We have Music Music. We still have MTV and Much Music now.
NC: Wait, I'm confused. Much Music, did that become Fuse?
DA: Much Music sold its license to Fuse.
NC: Oh OK, but now there's both again?
[We order Damian another Bahama Mama.]
DA: No, there's always been both. Much Music sold their license to Madison Square Garden Entertainment, who owned the Knicks, that's who owned Fuse.
NC: Oh OK, and that's why they're across the street in the plaza.
DA: Yeah, exactly. But now Much Music and Fuse kind of have a deal where they supply each other with content. Much Music and MTV are owned by the same company in Canada, so it's like this weird intermingling of stuff.
NC: You can't watch Much Music in America on television, you can watch online.
DA: You can watch it online, and also like, my show for instance, is now on Fuse. It starting bringing like — we did a Drake special, and they sold it to Fuse.
NC: Is that kind of how you were the logical choice for cruise director? The je nais se quoi of hosting?
DA: [Laughs] I guess. Like it's my day job hosting these things. No, I don't know. I think I volunteered. Michelle's like, “We need to find a cruise director.” I'm like, “Well if you don't find anyone I'll do it.” She's like, “You'll do it?” I'm like, “Yeah!” She's like, “OK, you're done.” I guess Ian Svenonius was last year, right? I heard he was a little meandering. [laughs] I like to think that I'm keeping it a little shorter. Short but sweet, hopefully.
NC: Are most of the bands on this bands that you've played with before?
DA: In a certain sense. Jacuzzi Boys, who we played with in Miami — they’re fantastic, I love that fucking band — we've played with them before.
NC: Yeah, that show was great.
DA: Khan and the Shrines — we've just played with BBQ and Khan for years. Played with The Shrines before. Thee Oh Sees I had never met until today, or Thursday.
NC: Had you seen them before?
DA: I'd never seen them live, but I have all their records, and they're just ...
NC: So good, such a great show.
DA: Yeah, unbelievably — talk about the worst band to have to go after. And then The Togas, Philip from The Togas and The Strange Boys, we've toured with Strange Boys. And Jello [Biafra], I've gotten to know a couple times over the years and stuff.
NC: Yeah, I wondered if anyone was closely associated with Jello …
DA: Yeah, he sang with us one time. Maybe we'll get him up tonight. We got him to do a Ramones song with us one time in SF. It was amazing. Our friend is like, “Jello, if you sing with them, I'll stage-dive naked,” and Jello's like, [while doing Biafra impression] “Well I'll sing with them, but please don't stage-dive naked.” Sure enough, he does stage-dive naked, gets put in a chokehold by a security guard and dragged out. And it's on the video of Jello singing with us. This naked guy runs and just jumps in the crowd and you see him getting dragged out.
NC: What a perfect place for that to happen.
DA: Oh exactly. And then Vivian Girls, we've played with a lot. It's weird, but I think now the larger — there's no real term for it — hipster-punk-garage-hardcore scene is really small. The dudes from Trash Talk doing a split with Wavves. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone's toured with everyone. And it really feels like sonically very different, the sounds bands are making. I guess it's, like, I wouldn't say ideologically, but more by circumstance that they've been put together. It's unbelievable. It's like being on a cruise with a bunch of friends. It's way better than touring. Way fucking better. I haven’t seen my band once.
NC: Are you guys in the middle of touring right now?
DA: Hell no. We're kind of on a working hiatus. We're just taking it easy from touring for a little bit. We're still playing shows here and there, but something like this doesn't even feel like a show. It feels like a vacation where you have to, like, "Oh there's one hour where you get to stand onstage and everyone's going to watch you.“ That's an amazing ego trip! It's a perfect vacation.
NC: The crowd's already won over by the event.
DA: By the alcohol.
NC: By the alcohol, yeah.
DA: Alcohol's a really good aid when you're a performer [laughs]. When I was straight-edge, I would be like, “I don't care if a show serves alcohol or not,” but now I realize people need that drink to loosen up and without — when it's a dry environment — it's a little slow to get everyone into the show. I think Senor Frogs, with their discounted drink special, is going to be the right environment. Maybe we should just play frat bars from now on.
NC: The hugs might turn into fights or something. The thing you were saying before, the seeing the bands and stuff. To me, one of the things that seems different about this — even among the cruise rock show things — is they're usually based on one band. It's always a lifestyle thing, like the Jimmy Buffett Cruise or the Motley Cruise or the Dave Matthew Cruise.
DA: Or the Metal Cruise or the Weezer Cruise.
NC: But this is like — there's no real headliner. Everyone seems to be on a equal footing …
DA: It absolutely is, and I think that's a credit to Michelle, Jonas and the Bruise Cruise people, because it becomes — the problem with those cruises, when it's built around a band, is how many times can you do it? Whereas the Bruise Cruise, it's like you can always have new bands in there, and it becomes the event itself that's important. I think a festival built around a band is just a gimmick. It's like, “Oh, I'm going to see this band in a unique environment.” But also, I think we're in a time where people are just getting saturated with the normal rigmarole of going to a concert. So many bands are on tour all the time now that this is disrupting the standard procedure of, “I'm at a dark club on a Saturday, or a weekday night, and I'm seeing this band. I'm going to go home afterwards.” This is like — I think it changes the way you look at the music, because it's something out of everyone's comfort zone. The band's comfort zone. The people seeing it's comfort zone. And it means that not necessarily that it's going to be an amazing show, but the show itself will become something that will be remembered outside of whoever's playing. It becomes this show as an event more than, this band played in concert.
NC: Well it seems like, the other thing, I mean you said you've never been on a cruise for your own enjoyment.
DA: Because I think the cool thing about this is you walk around, you sit down at a table, you talk to people — men, women that are into cool music. They're kind of like — I don't want to say from the same world or anything — but they're all from a similar mindset musically or culturally. So you can talk. If I was on this cruise, just my wife and I, chances are if I sat down at a table and they were like, “Oh, what do you do for a living?” It's like, “Oh, well I play in a band called Fucked Up.” Dead silent for the rest of that meal, it would be awkward as fuck.
NC: Needle skips off the record.
DA: Yeah, or you like sit down at a table with someone and they're like, “What have you been listening to lately?” and it's like, “Oh you know, just like this that, what about you?” And they're like, “Nickelback, Foster the People.” [Spots Cassie from The Vivian Girls] Yeeeaah, Cassie! What’s up?!
NC: It seems like a lot of the people who are the attendees of the cruise are in the exact same ... well, boat [laughs]. I don't think most people would just come on a cruise like this. It's something out of the norm that they would ever do.
DA: Exactly. Well it's an awesome thing they have. Obviously there's an expense involved, but if you're in a position to afford to take a vacation, the idea of, why not take a vacation with a bunch of like minded people seeing a bunch of bands that you like in a tropical climate?
NC: And we're all kind of fish out of water together … starting a weekend cult.
DA: Yeah, like why not go to the Bahamas with a bunch of people that have equally similar tastes in music and you can see cool bands, comedy.
NC: Jello Biafra walking around in a Hawaiian shirt.
DA: That's worth the price of the admission. Jello Biafra in a bathing suit.
NC: One of my favorite things was like, when they were doing the safety demonstration. It was like everyone shoulder to shoulder, people in bands with people who won the cruise, families who won a cruise or something.
DA: That's the coolest thing about an event like this or a Matador 21 or an ATP where the bands and the people that are going are communing and living together. It helps disrupt this notion that there's a band and an audience, and there's a very separate dichotomy between the two. Because there's no fucking difference. Dudes, — when I say dudes, I'm obviously meaning men and women — all these people just love music. Someone who's lucky enough to play in a band is just someone who lucked out being a fan that started playing music because they liked it. I think that's the — we lose that sometimes when we have a stage and a backstage and the band is backstage until they play. Don't get me wrong, those backstages are comfortable as fuck. There's a reason I'm not leaving. It's not because I'm scared to talk to people, it's because there's a couch back there, you know? But we're all relaxed here and we're all chilling out here. Hopefully this is like where it can be, where bands are — I think the idea of a massive band is a dying notion. I think much more is the idea of a tribal band. A band where people are like-minded, something like this. This wouldn't be something that would work if we had the whole cruise ship, because there wouldn't be maybe 2,000 people that would come on this, but 500 people would. It's the idea of having shrinking, smaller scenes that are more focused. I think that's where it's going. That's not to say you can't listen to different types of music, obviously, but I think this is the way it's going to go more and more. The idea of an event concert as opposed to just a normal concert.
NC: Are there other things you've done that are similar?
DA: I think ATP, All Tomorrow's Parties, in England. It was nowhere near as spectacular, scenery-wise, but it was still really an amazing event. I think that's one of the original ones where there's no ego allowed there. You're only allowed backstage the day you play. And all the other days if you want to stay, you're there as someone going to the show. If you don't want to, you can leave. They really do not take any attitude from bands. They will ban bands all the time from playing. They've got a list of bands that aren't allowed to play anymore because of bad attitudes or whatever. I think that's one of the first festivals kind of like this. I remember the very first one — I was living in England at the time, and Mogwai put it together in like 2000, and I was like, “Wow, that's such a cool idea! Everyone just hanging out at, like, a holiday park together.” And Matador 21, which we did last year in Vegas, was kind of the same thing.
NC: I wanted to go to that. It sold out so quickly, so expensive.
DA: You know what, it's weird. It was an unbelievable event — I don't want to take away anything from the event — but I don' think I saw a single band … maybe when Ted Leo and us did that thing back in forth where we were doing covers, that was different. Every other band, I think, was a really standard set.
NC: Like a festival.
DA: Yeah, like a normal festival, but it was because, once again, the event was so spectacular that it made all these performances seem that much greater. I saw Pavement twice or three times when they got back together, and that was one of the weirder ones out of the three, but still, because it was in Vegas and out of my normal comfort zone, it made it that much more special. Also, once again, everyone's staying in the hotels together.
NC: A summer camp kind of thing.
DA: Yeah, like, "I'm in the elevator right now with Liz Phair. That's crazy. Here's me and Liz Phair in an elevator." Shit like that. I think it's so cool, I really love that. That's what punk is so awesome for, because that's the first music I saw where the band was the fan. The fan and the band are completely interchangeable with each other. I think this is a logical extension of that.
NC: I just wonder on the Dave Matthews Cruise, do they hang out with him? Is he like hanging out at the pool?
DA: That's what I was wondering, or the Weezer cruise. I don't want to say anything bad about Rivers, I don't know the dude. But I've heard stories that he doesn't do well with groups of people coming towards him.
NC: Yeah, I've met him before, he's strange.
DA: Yeah, so what's he like on this cruise?!
NC: For an hour, they put him in a ring where you can approach him ...
DA: And then like, “Get the fuck out of here!” Yeah, I think it would take a — and obviously this might not work on a Foo Fighters cruise — I think it takes a certain type of band with a certain lack of celebrity. I've always felt like if bands are afraid of their fans, they should walk away and quit what they're doing. That changed when I was on that Foo Fighters tour, because there were some legitimately terrifying ...
NC: You guys toured with Foo Fighers?
DA: Yeah, we toured with them in Australia with them and Tenacious D. And it's like, oh yeah, because really celebrity, so there are really scary that want to like, take their skin away with them. So I'm like, “OK, for them it might not work.” But for any other type of band, this is an awesome way to do it. This is a super fun way to get to play some shows.
NC: If you're opening for Foo Fighters, the whole going in the crowd, how does it work in a venue like that?
DA: Before we went — the Foo Fighters' crew, by the way, is like the best people in the world. One of their guitar techs roadied for Poison Idea. Their main tour manager did punk shows for years in Florida. … Best dude, such a nice guy! Before we went there, they kind of knew what we were about and were like, “What do you guys need?” And I’m like, “Can I get a wireless microphone?” and they were like, "Absolutely!" So I had a wireless. ... And because they have the best sound system imaginable I just walked around with this microphone. It was great, because you're playing these huge soccer stadiums, and I'm like running up the stands and climbing in the VIP box. I'm not going to pretend we won 40,000 over, because we were only playing to 10,000 that would be in there while we were playing. But it was still a really bizarre and amazing experience to be — the Foo Fighters especially were a band that around the time I really became aware of music and aware of underground music about the time the Foo FIghters were kind of starting, and I heard rumors about this band and rumblings. And I went to see them open for Mike Watt on their very first tour. And I bought a bootleg tape of that show the next day at the store in Toronto that used to sell bootleg tapes the next day of shows. So I'm on this tour with them and I'm like, “Yo, I brought this tape for you guys because I bought this when I was a little kid,' and they're like, “Holy shit!” It just kind of hit me, like wow, this is the band that I, as a 15-year-old kid, went to see and here I am playing with them. I think that was the point where I was like, "This is it. This is all I ever wanted as a kid." As a 14-year-old kid, this was all I could have ever have hoped for is to be playing in bands, meeting these people that I love their music and this is the apex.
The only thing that sucks is that I'm 32, and it's like downhill from here [laughs]. A long slide back down because this is all I ever wanted, this is it. I don't really have any aspirations beyond this, as far as music. I wanted to be able to play with The Melvins, and now I'm doing a split 7-inch with The Melvins. I wanted to meet Jello Biafra, and now I'm on a cruise with him. I am the luckiest person in the world, but I think it also shows that anyone can fucking do this job. It is really not about virtuosity. I don't think music should ever be about virtuosity, because some of my favorite records were made by people that were not good at music, could not play their instruments. That's what it's about, just doing it. We've been incredibly lucky, and I'm living proof that anyone can fucking do this shit. Like, anyone. If I'm doing with my inability to carry a tune, my lack of rhythm, anyone can fuckin’ do this shit.
NC: Well that's a little self-deprecating, maybe [laughs].
DA: I honestly think music is like — The Desparate Bicycles I think are the most important band of all time. They were this English punk band. They were the second band to put out a DIY 7-inch; Buzzcocks beat them by like five months. They were in London, but they were different than The Buzzcocks. Where The Buzzcocks did it out of necessity, The Desparate Bicycles did it out of a political agenda. So they have these songs that are like, "Smokescreen," which is basically about how anyone can do music, we have this smokescreen. They have this motto that was, “It was cheap. It was easy. Go and do it,” that anyone could put out a record. They had this song, "Advice on Arrest," it was like, what to do when arrested. How to handle yourself so you maintain that you have your rights when you're confronted by a police officer. Those bands compared to, like, Dave Matthews Band are untalented buffoons, but they're making music that I think is 10 times as vital as any pretentious prog-rock musician was. Not to take away from people who like prog-rock, but this is vital music, and the urgency of what they're doing is so awesome. They're not going to blow anyone away with their chops, but I don't think you need the chops.
NC: Yeah. As far as chops, sometimes it's like running three miles in a circle to get somewhere you could walk 10 feet.
DA: Yeah, and it's like, the chops are great and they have their place, but after a while it's just showing off.
NC: Musicians showing off for other musicians.
DA: Yeah, exactly, and I'm not a musician by any stretch. I'm just a fan of bands.
NC: … Things happening like this that are kind of on a smaller scale for smaller scenes, do you think feel like that makes it easier to be able to sustain what you’re doing for longer — there isn’t always this pressure to be always building up and up, and moving up.
DA: Yeah, I think it is, but I think the thing is, things move very quickly now, and people get sick of things very quickly. Look at Lana Del Rey: She went from being the toast of town to being the most hated woman in the world in the course of, what, like four months? It happened so quickly, you know? And I don’t blame people, because we’re so inundated by media now. Think about back to a time when, like, In Utero is coming out. You hear about In Utero for months and months and months, and you get that record and you listen to it over and over again. Because you heard Nevermind, you’re waiting for this other record to come out, it finally comes out and you’re digesting it. Now, every day you turn on your computer and it’s like, “Oh, here’s 25 songs that I have to listen to according to these 10 websites.” Every day you’re hit with something, so you get sick of what you’re listening to and you just move on. So once again, the idea of, like, a Rolling Stones is kind of an archaic notion — I don’t know if that’s going to happen. I think much more of what’s happening now is bands are almost going in waves. You’re at your peak and then everyone kind of gets sick of you for a while. And then you come back and they’re like, “Oh, this band! I love this band! Oh, and they’re touring and playing their classic record!” And then they get sick of that and you go away for a while. And then you come back and they’re like, “Oh, they’re back again!” I think that’s the way it’s going now. You look at the way these cooler alternative bands from the ’90s are doing it, they come out and they’re playing their classic record that everyone loves start to finish. It’s because people are just sick of them — “Oh, it’s that band, coming to play their new record again. They’re playing their new songs.” I think it’s like, it’s going in waves now.
NC: Well, Dinosaur Jr., though, is a band that still makes good records. And Mission of Burma …
DA: But, I think Dinosaur Jr. — like, I’m sure if you ask J. [Mascis], he’d be like, “Yeah, the shows where we came out doing Bug start to finish were way more successful than the shows where we’re doing the new records. Or we’re doing songs from the new record and songs from Bug.” I just think the idea of going to a show is such a — we’ve just been so inundated with band after band coming to play just a show, that now it’s almost like the band has to do something a little extra for you to be like, “Oh, they’re great!” The way it works now is, like, you kind of get two plays into town. You get your first play, where you play a small venue and it’s crazy-sold-out, and everyone’s like, “I can’t get a ticket!” And then you come back to a bigger venue and it’s full. And it’s all the people who couldn’t get a ticket the first time. Then there’s the third time, and they’re not coming again. They’ve seen you. They don’t care about The Teenagers anymore, they care about Odd Future now. Or they don’t care about Lana Del Rey, they care about Eliza Banks, or whatever the next two steps are. And I don’t want to bemoan it, because you can’t really bemoan it. It’s like complaining about MP3s, that’s the reality. It’s like complaining about the sun, like, “Ah, I fucking hate that sun.” Well, it’s there, you can’t really stop it from coming up. And I think that’s kind of the way it is for bands. They’re like, “Yeah, there’s just too many other bands out there right now. It’s just too much bullshit — ”
Random Guy Who Recognizes Damian: Hey dude, sorry to interrupt. That’s so fucked up though!
DA: Oh, haha. … I don’t hold it against someone for wanting to move on, but it’s just happening faster and faster now. How many people have gone from being the cool garage-rocker to the cool dubstepper to whatever it is now? It’s just a constant cycle. Whereas something like [Bruise Cruise] is almost the antithesis of that — it’s looking for the hardcore. The people who are the lifers. It’s not there to appeal to the people who are there for a minute and then gone on — like the people that were there when David Comes to Life got Best New Music, or the people that were there when King Kahn and the BBQ Show got Best New Music on Pitchfork. This isn’t for them, this is for the people who are like, “I like that band! I actually like the record that came out after that more.” That’s what this is hopefully appealing to.
NC: From doing your TV show, from a media perspective, if bands keep coming through and being around. For doing what you do, even if you like a band a lot, you can’t write about them every time they come through.
DA: Yeah, well, the MP3 revolution — not to be anti-downloading or anything, because I do it too — but I think the idea that the MP3 was going to democratize music and somehow make it all equal and somehow take the power that the record company has and give it back to the artist, that didn’t really work. I think we’re seeing now that it’s only a matter of time before they come up with some law to try and stop downloading, and then people are going to have to buy MP3s at retail price. And they’re actually paying the same price they were for the CD, so the idea that CDs are too expensive and that MP3s are gonna be way cheaper didn’t really pan out. You’re still going to pay $10 for a new record — I guess it’s cheaper than $20. But the iTunes model is still built on the retail model. The idea of paying $0.99 for a song is still based on the idea that the retailer is paying for a store, paying for staff. iTunes doesn’t really pay for a store or staff, but they’re still charging that same kinda amount. So bands, the revenue source they’ve found to take the place of selling records is touring constantly. So whereas a band would — oh, here they are, they’re coming through once on their record, and they’re gonna come on their next record, [instead] they’re coming through two or three times on that same record. Because the only way you’re in a band that can survive is by touring constantly. And as a journalist, how many times can you talk about the same band? You’re kind of beholden to the readers and the viewers and the observers, and there’s only so many times you can be like, “No, you’ve gotta check this band out. They’re really good. I told you that last time, but you’ve gotta see it this time.”
I think the idea of even bus touring — it’s crazy, ‘cause there’s a lot of these English bands that’ll come over to North American, and they’re huge in England, and they’ll do their first tour in a bus. Those busses are so expense. I think it works out to, like, $2,000 a day.
NC: So you guys do vans?
DA: We do vans.
NC: Even with Foo Fighters and stuff?
DA: We did planes in Australia. … We didn’t ever go on [Foo Fighters’] plane. It was weird, because originally they were supposed to fly in and out every day from the show. But they ended up just going on tour regularly.
NC: Is that because the cities are so far apart?
DA: So far apart. The shortest drives you have are eight hours. And most of the drives are like 16-22 hours. So you fly, and then the gear takes two days to get where you are. … [Perth] was like, 48 hours, I think. They said it was 36 hours to drive the gear. We played Perth first and then we flew to Melbourne and had, like, five days off in Melbourne. As much as I’m bemoaning the rock-star trappings, it’s kinda fun! I’m not really in the position to take advantage of it a lot. So on that Foo Fighters tour it was like, “Oh my God. Look at this. We made it!” We’re in nice hotels every day, getting driven around, hanging out with the Foo Fighters and Jack Black. Like, “Holy shit.” Also, Nate, the bass player of the Foo Fighters played bass in Galleons Lap, before that he played bass in Brotherhood, the greatest straight-edge hardcore band of all time. Greg — from Sunn O))) — played guitar in Brotherhood. Nate was never allowed to be an official member of Brotherhood because he wasn’t straight edge. So he plays on the record, and if you look on the insert for the record, it’s like “Bass on this record by Nate. Brotherhood lineup on this record: whoever. Brotherhood lineup now: Another dude.” So I was sitting with this dude who played on this Brotherhood record, one of my favorite records of all time. It was just ridiculous. Really incredible. I got a Germs burn. Not from Pat Smear — he refused to do it — but from Chris Shiflett, who had one. Pat explained what it was as we were getting it for the TV show. As a music fan, to every day be like, “There’s the dude from The Germs. There’s the dude from Nirvana. There’s the dude from Brotherhood.” It’s like, “Oh my God.” Gus and Shawn, all these dudes on their crew had done time in great bands or roadied for great bands. Every day you could have a million awesome stories come out of a conversation. And as a band that’s in the position to make sure that touring is enjoyable, it’s the easiest tour you can do. Every day there’s catering. You have a driver driving you to and from shows. It’s hard not to get accustomed to that lifestyle.
NC: Yeah, but is this more fun?
DA: Oh, this is my most fun tour I’ve ever been on. This is ridiculous. I got in a hot tub today, I was in a hot tub. I don’t get to do that on very many tours. Also, the whole show moves with you. I’m not in any van or any airplane. I’m at the show the whole fucking time. At one point, Fucked Up were kind of joking about doing a boat tour. We were talking to Matador about seeing if we could find a way to find a way to even just break even, taking a boat and go down the Atlantic. “Oh, we’re in Boston. Oh, we’re in New York. Just kind of doing all the ports down to Florida. It wasn’t very cost-efficient. We couldn’t do it. … I think we’ll have to wait for the Bruise Cruise North. It’s kind of hard to sell people on the idea of, “Hey, it’s freezing outside, but you’re on a cruise ship.” … [We should do] Bruise Cruise Canada with Sloan and all the good Canadian Bands: Sloan, Arcade Fire. We played with Sloan just before we came out here. Talking to those guys, we were like, “What are you doing after Christmas?” and they said, “Oh, we’re playing a bunch of universities.” And we’re like, “Yeah, we’re playing a cruise.” And they were like, “Fuck you guys.” … Let’s be honest, Sloan is the best Canadian band of all time. I will go to my grave saying — well, certainly the best Canadian band post-1980 of all time. I like them more than Rush. I do like them more than Rush, and I partied with Geddy Lee’s kid as a kid, so I should be honest. When I say I partied with him, it was ‘cause I was doing acid, he was doing acid. He wore a jester had, I had some dumb hat on. We were 13.
In Toronto … everyone knows everyone’s dirty laundry, and everyone’s friends with everyone.
NC: Nashville is very much like that, too.
DA: Exactly. Nashville, it was weird when I went there, ‘cause if you didn’t work in the service industry, you were related to someone or were someone who had some connection to the music industry. It a music town. I mean, Music City right? … There’s also a lot of musicians there that haven’t made it, right? It’s like a Hollywood, but it’s not like a broken dream thing. … I really like that city. In fact, there’s a used clothing store-slash-vintage store next to the Exit/In. The guy who owns it made the Ultimate Warrior’s boots. They have the Ultimate Warrior’s boots in there. I tried to buy them, and the guy’s like, “These aren’t for sale.” … JEFF the Brotherhood is a really fucking hard act [to follow]. Hometown crowd, that band’s amazing. To me they sound like vintage G.G. Allen as a stoner-rock band. And I love old G.G. Allin stuff. Not obviously the perverse lyrics. I love that whole rock ‘n’ roll punk edge. But also, like, heavy as fuck and Sabbath-y. Awesome. … Do you know the band Koro? I think they were from Nashville, or maybe they were from Memphis. Fuck. Definitely from Tennessee. They were a super-fast early hardcore band. They had a … what was it called? My mind’s pickled on these tropical drinks. Anyway, they were an amazing Nashville hardcore band, like, ’82 era? So fast. There’s also a great Nashville punk band called The Rats. They were more kind of power-pop, and I really like that. I got a weird 45 the other week by some Nashville band that I’ve never heard of that was kind of punk. There was a comp called The London Side of Nashville, that was a Nashville new wave comp from, like, ’80. I imagine being a punk band in any city is kind of difficult, but I imagine being a punk band in Music City, USA, Nashville — Country USA — is kind of hard. There’s not a lot of venues who are open to you playing shows. Now it’s obviously better. JEFF the Brotherhood, Diarrhea Planet, Turbo Fruits. Obviously there’s a huge scene there. Even before that — Be Your Own Pet and stuff like that. There’s this tradition of that stuff now. But in 1980, being a new wave band in Nashville …
I think everyone’s moving to Nashville now. I imagine if you’re a musician there’s tons of gear, tons of studios. … It’s probably way cheaper to live in Nashville than in LA or New York or Chicago. … Obviously Jack White was the highest-profile exodus. It seems like a lot of my friends hang out in Nashville now. I’ve got a lot of friends who are, like, old-school punk rockers there, too.
[Thee Oh Sees' John Dwyer pops by for a moment to say hello to Abraham.]
DA: [Thee Oh Sees] is one of the hardest bands to ever go on after. Ever, ever, ever. Yeah, ever. I’d prefer to go on after the Foo Fighters at a stadium than them. Because, you know, at least the people who like you are going to stick around, but after Thee Oh Sees, even the people that like you are decimated. So you’re playing to a decimated room. It’s weird, because sonically it’s almost like The Monks meets The Pixies, but as a punk band. It’s really bizarre. ‘50s frat rock.