The Father And The Animal Thing

Luscious Jackson Live in San Francisco
Grand Royal Magazine #1
Winter 2003

We caught up with our own Luscious Jackson in San Francisco recently, right before they hit the stage as the opening act for Urge Overkill at Slim’s. Bob Mack was able to conduct the interview before getting so drunk that the management escorted him from the premises. Here are some of the livelier exchanges from that discussion. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TOWN SO FAR?
Jill: We’ve only played L.A. so far.
OH, I THOUGHT YOU’D BEEN ON THE ROAD.
Kate: [Ignoring me] Where’d we stop, Bakersfield? Is that our favorite town? Lot of songs about Bakersfield and we’re, we just might want to move there. Relocate. To Highway 5.
OK BUT YOU DID PLAY LOLLAPALOOZA IN JERSEY AND THAT MUST HAVE BEEN-
Gabby: The experience was mind boggling! I’ll go twice more!! We got really suntan
Kate: And sunburnt. We got really tired.
Gabby: And dusty.
AND CRANKY?
Gabby: Oh not cranky, it was like-
Kate: But the show was good.
Gabby: But Vivian got hit on the head with a drum.

WHY, COS YOU WERE DOIN’ THE NIRVANA THING?
Kate: Yeah, as you know. I destroy my drum kit every night. And I try to hit at least one person a night
SOOO…AFTER THE AMERICAN TOUR YOU’RE GOING TO EUROPE.
Kate: That’s true. That’s the truth.
[TO VIVIAN]: YOU GREW UP IN EUROPE?
Vivian: I was grown in Europe.
Kate: Full grown.
AND SO NOW WHEN YOU GUYS GO TO EUROPE YOU’LL HAVE-
Vivian: The triumphant return.
SO WHAT’S UP WITH RICKY POWELL?
Gabby: Jill has a slight thing going with Ricky Powell- in the village.
Jill: Yes, we keep it under wraps.
WHAT ARE YOUR GROUPIES LIKE?
Kate: They’re like Ricky Powell. A lot.
Jill: Yeah they are!
Kate: Very Ricky Powell-ish.
Jill: They’re sweet little chickens. We love them. I think that our guitar tech is a genius, we love him.
Kate: Hey he’s the drum tech, too, all right?
WHAT’S THE SOUNDTRACK BEEN IN YOUR VAN?
Kate: We had the Led Zeppelin A to Z station, and they were on [the letter] “I.” And there’s a million songs that start with I. Some of the best songs. It’s fascinating. “Immigrant Song,” “Into The Light,” “In The Evening,” and the other one off Physical Graffiti [mimmicks a few bars]…
“IN MY TIME OF DYING.” THAT’S THE DRUMMER’S SONG, JOHN BONHAM.
Kate: That’s one of my favorites- serious drum song. So that was basically what we’ve listened to. So far. But Capitol gave us a lot of free tapes. They want us to listen to Blind Melon, and they want us to listen to, uh,
Jill: Radiohead-
Kate: But we all want to listen to Bonnie Rait and that’s all.
Jill: And the Blue Note catalog too.
WHO WAS ON THE SECOND STAGE AT LOLLAPALOOZA WITH YOU? AND DID YOU-
Jill: Can we discuss one thing about Lollapalooza? They dissed ESG. They applied to go on second stage and got dissed. Anyway.
Vivian: There was a guy who juggled bowling balls.
THEY LET THAT BOWLING BALL GUY ON THE STAGE IN JERSEY, TOO? HE’S TRAVELLING ACROSS THE COUNTRY?
Jill: He is the main dude. He’s the only consistency.
THAT GUY IS NO GOOD.
Jill: No, he’s not.
Gabby: He’s up to no good.
Kate: They were really nice to us, though, there. And we actually thought it was going to be a nightmare, but it turned out to be OK.
WHAT TIME DID YOU PLAY?
Kate: We played around 2pm, is that right?
Gabby: We’re a lunchtime band!
[LAUGHTER]
Kate: Yeah we didn’t have to compete with anyone. We ate cajun chicken with cheez whiz.
Gabby: Ohh! Don’t remind me.
Kate: We’re trying to eat better.
SO HOW IS LIFE ON THE ROAD?
Jill: Bad.
Gabby: Bad fud!
Jill: Continuous digestion problems.
Kate: Digestion problems and sometimes sinus problems. [Exaggerated nerd voice] As you can tell by my voice.
SO WHAT’S UP WITH YOUR NEW VIDEO? TAMRA AND SPIKE DID IT THE OTHER DAY AT D’S HOUSE?
Jill: In his garage, yeah. He has a garage that has fucked up paint that looks really cool .
Gabby: We want to be a garage band.
Kate: And we were having a garage sale.
SEE I THOUGHT THE VIDEO SHOULD BE LIKE DAVID BOWIES’ “RED SHOES.”
Jill: Oh no! Get the hell outta here!
Kate: Is that the one where he’s painted all blue?
Jill: No, I know exactly what you’re talking about. That started my red shoe thing, where I couldn’t stand red shoes.
SPEAKING OF SHOES, GABBY
Gabby: Why am I still wearing these?
NO! YOU’RE MY HERO FOR WEARING THE SAME ONES ALL THE TIME.
Gabby: I’ve been wearing these same shoes for six years because I have fat, flat feet.
[Laughter]
Gabby: People used to dis me- they’d be like “Oh she’s still got the old shoes, yaah-ha!” Like I bought Pumas like five years ago in San Francisco and they’re really narrow. I loved the way they looked but they killed my fat feet.
PLUS, YOU ALWAYS WEAR BLUE ONES.
Jill: No, no, no.
Gabby: Blue ones I left at my last job. Grey one. I feel, once you like something, you stick with it. You know what I mean?
Jill: [Laughs]
[EMBARRASSED] NO…NOW IS THE TILE BAR, LIKE, REPLACED? OR WAS I SPACING LAST TIME I WAS IN N.Y.
Gabby: no, it’s still there. I got fired. It was all your fault! They were like, you disrupted the whole bar. Jill was talking too loud. The tape recorder intimidated the bar people.
[REMEMBERING MY EARLIER INTERVIEW OF JILL] I B0TCHED IT THAT BAD?
Gabby: Just kidding. I got fired because-
Kate: Come to think of it, that restaurant you interviewed me at went out of business, too.
WELL, AS ADROCK POINTS OUT, I’VE GOT THE 8 BALL OVER MY HEAD.
Jill: We have bad luck, too. What do we do? We close restaurants when we work there. That’s our curse. I’m convinced that____ and I closed this __________ restaurant because
[SHHH! OFF THE RECORD!] SO WHAT’S UP WITH URGE OVERKILL? WHO’S GOING OUT WITH WHOM?
Gabby: Awesome.
Jill: Yeah, totally fun.
Gabby: We’re getting into the spirit of the dressing up.
Jill: I’m going out with Blackie…
Gabby: Paint it Blackie.
Kate: I wanna go out with Blackie!
Gabby: We both go out with Blackie. We all go out with Blackie!
Vivian [finally]: I wanna go out with Blackie, too.
OH, I’M HEARTBROKEN…NOW VIVIAN YOU’VE BEEN WEARING HOT PANTS LATELY?
Vivian: WHO started this rumor?
Jill: Probably that slimey, sleazy guy- that bi-level camera guy. Can we talk about bi-levels for a minute?
OK.
Jill: Do we all know what bi-levels are? It’s this haircut with the-
OH, IT’S THE MULLET!
[Together] No!!
Jill: It’s similar. The bi-level is when you have Jean Claude Van Damme-style. Billy Ray Carus. Cyrus. Short, straight, with the long curly tails. The guy was picking up on everybody.
Kate: Except for me, wonder why? Hmmm.
[Laughter]
Vivian: And we decided that bi-levels are the bottom of the barrel.
Jill: For us the word mullet is more than a haircut.
Gabby: They’re the person.
Jill: They’re also, when you see a group, you go, “Look at those mullets over there!” They don’t have to have mullets.
Vivian: A flock of mullets.
WHAT’S WITH THAT?
Kate: It’s a Beastie Boys reject thing, I think.
Jill: You know what it is? It’s Lollapalooza kids that jump from scene to scene that have a little bit of hippie in them, a little punk and a little hip hop going on. They’re into everything, they jump scenes. That’s what a mullet is. They got the shave and the long. And the bi-level is also a kind of human being, a sleazy guy.
Kate: The Andre Agassi kind of thing.
Jill: Who’s that?
Vivian: Tennis player.
Kate: The hair guy.
OK. EMBARRASSING BEASTIE BOYS STORIES FROM WHEN THEY WERE 13 YEARS OLD…AFTER ALL, IT’S THEIR PUBLICATION
Jill: I’ve got one. This is not that embarrassing. Adam Yauch and I used to have this game in my house. We’d run around the house screaming and throwing pillows at each other. Like ALL around the house, down the hallways, into the living room. And my father’s like a really peaceful guy, and he always reads in the living room.
WAS HE LIKE A PROFESSOR?
Jill: No, he’s a writer. Anyway, we would just go like maniacs all over the house screaming, and one time it got so out of control that Adam like heaved this pillow at me and it broke one of our best lamps.
[Groan]
Jill: And my father had to scold him. Like a child.
HOW OLD WAS ADAM?
I’d say he was like 16. And he was so embarrassed, and he felt so bad, and my father still remembers this.
Gabby: I have an Adam Yauch story! I’ve got a funny Adam Yauch story. The first time I ever met him. I went with this girl, Joanne, and her boyfriend to his house, in Brooklyn. We were about 13, he was wearing a mod shirt. He used to have a long trench coat, tan-
Jill: With “White Riot” written on the back.
Gabby: Was it? So anyway, I was only 13, so I had never really been around guys that much, OK? And we’re sitting there! and I don’t know what the situation is supposed to be, so all of a sudden my friend and her boyfriend start making out! And I’m looking at him, and I’m like, if you fucking-
[Giggles]
Gabby: If you dare, you know, try to do anything, I will KILL ya’! And he’s just sitting there like [folds hands and makes polite, well-behaved face].
[Laughter]
Gabby: That was like my first experience with another guy. Nothing happened of course, but I just was like, ‘Oh my God, what am I supposed to do now?’
WHAT DID HE DO, THOUGH?
Gabby: He didn’t do anything. We just both sat there while they made out! And we were like [straight face]. And they were like ‘neeyyea, yea, yea’ [kissy face].
Jill: We all used to sleep at Adam Yauch’s house sometimes. ALL of us! We used to have like 10 people.
Kate: His parents would go away a lot. Um, I have a good Adam and Michael slept over at my house, once, story. And uh,
[Laughter]
Kate: Adam came into my room to tell me that there was like three inches of water on the bathroom floor because the water heater bottom dropped out while he was there. And I don’t know if this is the same story, but Mike slept over one time, and he left such a mess in the bathroom, there was so many towels and so much water all over the place, that I got screamed at SO bad by mother! She couldn’t believe it-
Jill [Mom voice]: ‘Those guys just wreak havoc!’
Gabby: John Berry, the original guitarist, smashed my guitar. I lent Adam Horovitz my Pignose amp and he never gave it back!
AWW YEAH!
Gabby: I am a bitter woman. But he lent me his guitar for the video, so we’re even!
Jill: Totally out of tune, we tried to tune it. Where’d you get that yogurt?
YEAH, WERE DID YOU GET THAT YOGURT?
Vivian: Haight Street.
Kate: Mike Diamond used to sing in a British accent.
Jill: And an H.R. accent also.
Kate: Well first it was H.R., and then he got into some-
Jill: The British stuff. It kind of worked for him, though. Have to say, he pulled it off…
[Thoughtful silence]
Jill: Do we have any more stories?
Gabby: I like the John Berry story!
I WAS GONNA SAY, WHAT’S UP WITH JOHN BERRY? ISN’T HE BACK IN NEW YORK?
Jill: He’s playing in Ike The Dyke now.
Kate: He s a rock dude now.
Jill: He’s a blues-rock guy now.
Kate: It’s a real good band.
[They wonder if there’s a John Berry wedding story or Screaming Trees story worth telling but determine there isn’t. I turn to Vivian. I have promised my friend, Cole, who is in the room, that I will ask her to marry me.]
ON THE JOURNALISTIC TIP, THESE GUYS ARE ALL FROM THE SAME…
Vivian: And I’m not…
MILIEU…SEE, NOTICE THE FRENCH WORD USED AS A TRANSISTION-
Vivian: [Unimpressed]. Uh-huh. I was born in New York.
BUT YOU GREW UP IN PARIS, OPERA SINGING PARENTS, YOU ADD A LITTLE TINKLE-TINK TO THE-

[They laugh at my drunken rap. One says “Oh my God”]
HOW DID THIS ALL COME ABOUT, THOUGH?
Jill: Vivian and I were teaching together-
SUBSTITUTE TEACHING WITH RICKY POWELL?
Jill: Nothing to do with Ricky Powell.
Vivian: Adults. Adult education.
Jill: English as a second language in a factory in Queens.
Vivian: Jill and I went through a heinous experience together, and then we decided-
Jill: We bonded, we really bonded, right?
Vivian: To make up for that incredible year of torture.
Gabby: I’ve never seen you as sad as that, ever.
Jill: We were the most depressed. [They talk about how sad they were, a guy named Mike enters and Jill says “Mike has more groupies than we do.”]
SO VIVIAN [Clapping my hands]
Vivian [Perturbed]: What! Alright. I was born in New York, my parents were musicians and when I was six months old they headed off to Europe to pursue careers in classical music. My father’s an opera singer and my mother’s a classical pianist. So of course we lived in Switzerland, and then we lived in Vienna, and then we lived in Paris. Um, so, I was a really lucky creature, you know? So it was great, but it was also a drag, cos, you know, I mean coming to the States in the summer was like heaven.
Jill: Texas!
Vivian: Yeah well that part wasn’t heavenly, but other parts, you know, like other places we’d go. Cos coming to the States, things are so much more free and open here.
UH-HUH [Wide-eyed in total Libertartian agreement]
Vivian: So as soon as I possibly could and as soon as I finished high school there, I came back-
Jill: [With Liberal scepticism] Really? Why is it more free and open here?
Vivian: Well like, if you go to the park in Paris, you can’t walk on the grass. I mean that’s what I noticed as a kid. I was allowed to walk on the grass and take off as many clothes as I wanted.
Jill: Hello!
Vivian: Play as many games…you know? I just, it just-
Jill: And they would [indecipherable] in the grass!
[Laughter]
Vivian: Shut the fuck up. Or uh, but you know, and like I could go to New York and I could do anything I wanted to do, you know, which you can’t do over there.
Jill: Well also you were in really strict schools.
Vivian: I was. I was in like practically military, I mean they weren’t military but it was really hardcore.
Jill: She came to California and was shocked at how bad the school was.
Vivian: Yeah, I lived in California for one year when I was 12 and I was horrified.
COMING FROM A CLASSICAL BACKGROUND, WHAT’S IT LIKE PLAYING HIP HOP?
Vivian: Well, you know, I’m learning as I go [laughs].
Gabby: She’s a natural!
Kate: She’s a natural cheese-meister!
Vivian: I’ve loved cheese for years.
Jill: She’s like the Romano cheese of our music!
NOW I HEARD ONE OF YOUR NEW SONGS FOR THE LP THAT WAS VERY KEYBOARD BASED.
Vivian: Oh, “Surprise.”
ON THE NEXT ALBUM IT WILL BE ALL FOUR OF YOU?
Jill: Absolutely. We weren’t a full band on that last record. That was a garbage demo tape. We love it, but it was done a long time ago, for nothing. We’ll fit right into Grand Royal’s schema!
ARE YOU MORE COMFORTABLE WITH THE HIP HOP STUFF IN CONCERT?
Jill: What are you trying to say there, Bob?
Gabby: That we’re scared?
NO BUT LAST TIME I SAW YOU PLAY THE HIP HOP STUFF YOU SEEMED COOL BUT TENATIVE-
Jill: No, they’re not tenative at all.
Gabby: You’ll see tonight how good they are.
Jill: You’ve got to go to more shows, Bob!
[This proves to be true. Later that night they play with an offhand intensity that does in fact remove my lingering doubts about their show-woman ship. That is, Kate’s got beats like Bonzo, Gabby’s rap purrs, Jill’s vocal chills and Vivian swings like a hypnotist’s timepiece].
Kate: Ask some more questions, this is sort of relaxing!
SO WHO ARE YOU TOURING WITH IN EUROPE?
[All]: The Breeders!
VIVIAN ARE YOU GOING TO SHOW THEM THE ROPES?
Vivian: Um, yeah. Absolutley. You betcha
Jane Their Manager: Tell em you’re new names!
Jill: This is getting tired here. Alright, never mind. We can tell them.
Kate: Trey. All our names are Trey.
Jill: Get the fuck out of here!
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?
Vivian: Well, Gabby brought Steve Miller Band on tour, so I’ve been listening to that.
Kate: I’ve been listening to the new Gloria Estefan record, in Spanish. And the new Smashing Pumpkins.
ANY RICKY POWELL STORIES TO END WITH?
Kate: Ricky has a way….l don’t think Ricky understands that all girls are not bimbos. And I think he should learn that.
Gabby: Me and Ricky have a lot in common. We both never met our father. We both grew up in the village. We both love animals. We both love to play basketball-
[Heckling]
Gabby: No, but the father and the animal thing.

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