Aidan. Dublin 10/11/2018:
This Is My Dinner is kind of like a dreamy European travelogue and we get right inside your day to day physically and mentally.. Actually, how would you classify it yourself? You'll say it better than me..
Mark. Islington Doubletree Hotel. Room 268 - 10/11/2018 2:00 am:
You said it just as good as I can. It's a European travelogue. The first song – This Is Not Possible, came to me in a hotel in a suburb of Frankfurt after a cancelled show in Germany. The words were written quickly and the guys in the band put that R&B music to the words during a soundcheck in Berlin. We played it in Berlin that night and it went over great.
Then we'd write another song for the next city, and we were on a roll. It was so much fun playing the songs for those specific crowds and countries that they were written for. But then taking them inside of studio walls was a whole different experience; no audience to play off of. But I've found that there is something about these songs that resonates with any audience. I can get any anyone to cheer for Andrew Golota, though 99% of most audiences don't know who he is. I establish him as an underdog, someone to applaud for. I take a fairly disrespected boxer and make him lovable.
Aidan. Dublin 10/14/2018:
This has been developing for a while now but more and more you’re kind of becoming the songs.. wasn’t there a painter once who disappeared into a painting? Maybe I mean Van Gogh.. I feel like they’re happening, forming, right now in real time as I listen to them. I’m taken by surprise constantly, smiling a lot at fucking weird things and then smacked down by something, strange emotions being tweaked. How many of these are one-takes? And assuming they’re not improvised lyrically, are there at least parts that are spontaneous and do you take yourself by surprise? And do you censor as in is there stuff that comes up that you hold back on? I guess you may not want to answer that last bit..
Mark. Travelodge Edinburgh. Room 314 10/14/2018 11:40 pm:
Hi Aidan - we had a long trip in from Manchester today. The train kicked everyone off because of a landslide. I know of the song Landslide but other than that I've never thought about the word landslide until our train today. We then waited for a bus, which took us to another train, and our 3-and-1/2 hour trip became an 8-hour trip. We shared the second train in first class with some older people with canes. They had real gripes. Ours were minor. My biggest gripe now is that there are no stores around here - nowhere to get some oranges or bananas - healthy things to eat at night.
But anyhow I think around the time I turned 40, I needed to bring more of me into the songs. Mid-life issues, the things I talked about on stage, the funny stuff, the awkward stuff, the confrontational stuff. Things happening on the road and in my home life. It had to became one in my art. Before that, I was locked into metaphors - for too long - and it got boring and I felt held back - that I was skimming the surface. I'm reading a Henry Miller book now. He says: "Life begins at 40. For the majority of men, it is so, for it is only in middle age that the continuity of life, which death promises, begins to make itself felt and understood." This makes sense to me. Creatively, I got going at 40. I started to have a good time making music. I became fearless, less inhibited, I started enjoying myself and owning who I am. And I quit taking things for granted - quit thinking everything and everyone was going to be around forever. I started taking things in more - color, detail, listening closer to conversations, or the frequencies of fog horns, or paying attention to people's mannerisms. I began to appreciate life more, knowing that at after 40, there are no guarantees of even another decade. I love playing, writing, recording, and performing, now, more than ever. But yeah, the painter became the painting. That's a good way of putting it. On the album, all of the songs were cut between 3 live takes in the studio. It's all happening live - but spliced between 2 to 3 takes.
Aidan. Seat 6K Aer Lingus flight EI0544 Dublin-Nice 10/14/2018:
There are healthy foods in Scotland, bananas definitely, but also unhealthy foods like deep fried Mars Bars if you’re feeling inclined. I like rail travel for precisely those reasons that made your travel day longer- it doesn’t always go like clockwork. And I like trains. I missed some connections once years back and ended up stranded on a train in the middle of the night in Gloucester, England. I’d smoked a joint earlier and I was a bit paranoid cos I’d been reading this book - Happy Like Murderers - about Fred and Rosemary West and all that had taken place in Gloucester (serial killing including family members. Bodies under concrete in the basement). I got really scared and the other passengers on the train suddenly all looked like killers. Which is a segue into talking about what happens a little way into the Linda Blair song. When I mentioned that I was taken off guard more than a few times listening to the album, one of those times was definitely when you went into that Regan voice which is funny but I’d say the scariness overrides that. Then comes sympathy. These are the hairpin turns that I love you’ve got going on in your songwriting. You’re becoming a specialist. I once saw an exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in London which included all the original make-up, camera and voice tests for Linda Blair in The Exorcist and there was hours and hours of all that stuff and only once or twice did she switch back to being a normal girl in the middle of proceedings.. It was fascinating but disturbing. That Henry Miller quote is very good- It’s been a while since I read one of his books.. for me a lot changed with having a first kid then the death of a parent. They were both startling and I didn't fear death anymore having watched my dad do it. I thought that's your final lesson, and one of your only ones (cos he was low-key in a good way) you’ve shown me how to do that gracefully if I've got any level of control at that moment.. Anyway, I loosened up a bit too, and cared more. But the structure of the world as I knew it changed, like molecularly or something, everything suddenly changed from circles to triangles. You sound tracked your own tour film- something my writer/director friend Jamie Thraves and I worked out on our collaborations- it’s cheaper and makes it more personal to write and record your own, which Jamie did.. here’s a confession- I’ve often used your music to soundtrack little movies I’ve made on my phone using iMovie (often combined with slo-mo and the vintage8 app) which I love to edit on planes leaving some place I’ve been working in and photographing and I can say your music really works with film.. I know your various acting roles and that you’ve expressed an interest in doing more - what kind of stuff would you want to do and which directors, actors and films do you like? Also, I think something that hasn’t been done enough - hardly at all in fact- is when a filmmaker uses the same artists songs (either written specifically or ready-made or a combination of both) to soundtrack a film. Altman did it with Leonard Cohen in McCabe and Mrs. Miller and it’s really powerful. What do you think?
Mark. Travelodge Edinburgh. Room 314. 1:22 am 10/14/2018:
I gotta confess I didn't know you did soundtracks. And I'm flattered that my music has made its way into some of your personal films. The only thing I refuse to do now, as an actor, is play myself, or play a musician.
I was offered a part recently by the very talented Mark Duplass, to play myself in one of his shows (Room 104). But I've done that before (basically) and I just couldn't do it again. I'm a musician 24 hours a day and as an actor I want something different. I know I've got skills as an actor outside of playing a guy in a band. A few years ago, I played a part in an unreleased independent film shot up in Butte, Montana, where I played an abusive, controlling father. I thought, this is easy, I was born in 1967 and grew up in Ohio. Dads who kicked the shit out of their kids in the 1970s – it wasn't called child abuse then. Where I was from, it was called being a dad. So anyhow I played a guy who yelled at his wife and kid and I did a pretty good job. I did such a good job that I cracked my ribs. I'd like to play intense rolls. Scorsese or Tarantino type stuff. And I know I could play comedic roles. I can't believe they haven't given me a call for Portlandia. Please keep in mind that throughout this interview, I'm working on much less sleep than I'd be getting at home. Am pretty scattered on tour, fatigued, but this feels like the right way to go about this one as that's how I felt when I wrote This Is My Dinner. The movie I was in that hasn't been released is directed by Jason Massot, son of Joe Massot, who directed The Song Remains the Same.
I must also confess I only know you from The Wire. You're great in it. You're like a mix of three great actors - Kyle Chandler, Ed Norton, and Richard Gere. I keep hearing about Pinky Blinders and I'm going to tune into that when I'm back in the states. There's another thing I have to confess. I've never seen Game of Thrones. Is that OK to say? Will I get assassinated by the Game of Thrones mob? My friend Noah Taylor even had a part in it. There are a lot of things everybody does that I don't do. As an example, I've never eaten a McDonald's hamburger, never played a video game, never held a bowling ball, never opened a Facebook account. Next stop for me on your career will be Pinky Blinders because my drummer friend Steve talked about it all last weekend when we played San Francisco and Long Beach and I trust his tastes in film and television. The reason I'm worried about being injured for saying I haven't watched Game of Thrones is because when I interviewed Rainn Wilson a few years ago in Oakland, before an audience of about 300, I could feel the audience’s hostility when I said I'd never seen The Office. They were pissed off that I only knew him from our time together on Almost Famous and his part in a Rob Zombie film. I'm OK with it when people don't know my whole catalog. Are you offended when people don't know you're entire IMDB? When people don't know my whole catalog, it's a sign of stability. On your soundtracks, what do you play? Oh, and regarding The Exorcist - my only memory of being anywhere near the set was in DC once. I hope I got that right. DC, and not Philadelphia. Those stairs. I met a girl who was very excited to take me to this Italian place called Buca Di Beppo or something like that. It was somewhere near those stairs.
I didn't care about the restaurant - which I found out later was a national chain, or the stairs. I was in my 20s and all I cared about was getting together with her.
I get stranded a lot. Miss connections all the time. Spend 15 hours in horrible airports like Frankfurt because I miss connections to Helsinki. I spend the night in airport hotels all the time.
The most frightened I'd ever been on a plane was on a flight from Paris to Cincinnati. It's the only memory I have of sleeping on a plane and this insane amount of turbulence woke me up. A girl near me was petrified. The whole plane was. The look on that girl’s face scared the fuck out of me. I don't believe in God but I was saying prayers. At the end of that trip I ended up at in Covington, Kentucky, watching Terms of Endearment with a girl I was seeing then. The walls at her place were teal.
Aidan. Cannes Intercontinental Hotel. Room 750 (which is bigger than some entire hotels I’ve stayed in. What the fuck am I doing in here? Someone’s getting something out of it I guess) 10/14/2018 23.57:
Hey I love The Song Remains the Same.. werewolves being machine gunned and that bit where old hooded wizards show up.. not what you’re expecting at Madison Square Gardens every night.. I’d like to see the indie you did in Butte. Will we ever? Being in films that never get seen is a hazard of the indie or lo-fi sector, I’ve got a few of those going on myself.. Funny enough I did play myself in something and I quite liked it. Was doing a radio interview about it and it was pointed out that it sounds really nutty to say you’re playing yourself, or at least that the ease with which I was talking about it suggested that I’m playing myself generally, like all the time. Which might be partially true and is distressing. Actors have weird mental set-ups whatever way you look at it. I didn't actually play on the soundtracks, my friend did. I played drums badly in one of the films (Treacle Jr.) cos I was playing a bad drummer called Aidan. We were collaborating on the writing and producing.. we did 3 films together- The Low Down, PickUps and Treacle Jr. I played someone called Aidan in 2 of them. It’s easier. I play guitar not that well, greatly helped by fuzzboxes. I do own a black and white Danelectro which when asked about it by an actor friend once when he saw it lying there told him that that was the guitar Jimmy Page was playing on Kashmir (or so I was told anyway).. Hadn’t seen him for years and I met him in LA a couple of months ago. We talked for a while and he said, “I've been thinking since then, it's really amazing that you have Jimmy Page's guitar." I had to break the news gently that it wasn’t the actual guitar. I can see you doing some comedy for sure and equally imagine the heavier stuff. Never mind the Game of Thrones fan assassins, I can imagine you playing an assassin too, ghosting through cities with a long case. Some Patricia Highsmith type thing. Or voicing a character on a smart animation. An animated comedy about an assassin maybe. I could see you in Scorsese alright, or Paul Thomas Anderson or Wim Wenders or Gus Van Sant.
I think the less people know of one's IMDB list the better. I used to actively skip town or move to another continent when something became a hit. Like for instance, after The Wire came out I moved to rural West Kerry in Ireland for 4 years, which some in the industry find amusing. What's amusing is that then Star Wars came and started filming down the road. Luke Skywalker’s exile island? That's my hood. Never eaten a McDonald's hamburger? That's impressive.. and video games, well I’ve played some but I've also been a character in a video game- a time travel one called Quantum Break. That's a weird one, particularly playing it. We did it in Helsinki so I too have a good sense of those Scandinavian places and feel them in similar ways to you - the weird light and the clear air and the reindeer. It’s horrible but I inadvertently ate some reindeer while there when I sprinkled it on a salad from a shaker.
I saw Noah Taylor in a bar once and thought I’d say hello to him - we were both in Game of Thrones after all and I knew his stuff from way back, like the film, Flirting. He was over there and I was here and there were only a few other people in this place so I went over and said, “Hey just wanted to say hello - I’m Aidan and I’m in Game of Thrones too," and he said, “Isn’t everybody.” By the way it’s Peaky not Pinky. Often also comes out as Pesky with predictive text. A lot of the songs here are about traveling to and from cities, looking out the windows of planes, trains.. even though you’d been writing like this for a while –Tonight in Bilbao one of my favourite songs of yours was probably the first time I really noticed this but it really seemed to come into sharp focus with I Know It's Pathetic But That Was The Greatest Night Of My Life and by putting it as opening track of Among the Leaves really made sure everyone noticed that. Are audiences at shows now going to expect a song written on the way to the gig? Is that a pressure? Are there always people there wanting you to fall in love with them even just for a few days? If you wrote a song about Dublin what would be in it? I can only imagine.
Mark. Travelodge Edinburgh. Room 314. 1:00 a.m. 10/15/2018:
Cannes Intercontinental Hotel. You're doing better than me! When I travel solo, I step it up. But when I travel with a group, I dumb it down as the salaries, flights, and hotels come out of my pay. This hotel is actually pretty cozy - no street noise, and no phone. Other things I've never done; eaten cottage cheese, or used a smart phone. OK Peaky Blinders, not Pinky. My brain is all over the place. I'm trying to make sure I don't leave my shoes behind, or an envelope of cash, or my laptop adapter, or my TUMS. Man, you're in stuff I've never heard of. I've got some catching up to do on you when I get home. Where do I begin? I won't watch Game of Thrones. There are three things I'll never do; read Moby Dick, War and Peace, or watch Game of Thrones. Noah Taylor. That sounds like him! He's got dark wit.. He was my best friend on the Almost Famous set for the 9 months that it lasted. 1999. I lived in Marina Del Rey and he lived in Venice (during the filming). We'd take trips to see fights in Vegas on weekends, or trips up to S.F. Then the movie was over and I saw him twice at my shows in England and haven't seen him since 2004. I hope he turns up again someday. I have a song called “Carondelet,” on the Jesu/Sun Kil Moon album, where he's referenced. There's at least a few verses dedicated to him and his then girlfriend, and my girlfriend, at the time. We did a lot of fun stuff together - the four of us. I was in my prime then. 32. What a blast.
OK so it took me two nights to realize I'm not in a Best Western, but in a Travelodge, so I've just changed my above references from Best Western, to Travelodge. Traveling day to day, am scattered all the time, traveling at this pace. I wake up and it takes me 5 minutes to realize where I am - every single day of my life.
We had a good show tonight. A standing room. I expected heckles and requests but it was mellow. My guess is that most of the crowd only knew 20 to 30% of the material. No complaints. We held them. I think the narratives pulled them in - and Ben and Ramon's beautiful piano and guitar playing. The audience loves surprises. Occasionally, I make changes to make things relatable for them like tonight instead of referencing Panera Bread, I referenced Gregg's, and they loved it. It's only been three shows so far on this run but it's been the best show so far.
Man, I feel like I've referenced Ireland a lot. In 666 Post, for sure. Have referenced John Connolly's books more than I can count. I was so tired at the end of that tour last year, that when it got to the last show, Dublin, I sang a chapter of John Connolly's He, instead of writing a song for Ireland.
If I wrote a song for Ireland it would mention: Phil Lynott, John Connolly, The Morrison Hotel, a cab ride from Galway to Belfast, a girl who spent the night with me in Dublin and peed in the closet because she was too drunk to find the bathroom, Charlie's (terrible Chinese place), Steve Collins' sister hanging out in my San Francisco living room (nothing romantic or physical). And sorry, but The Edge would get a ribbing. Maybe he's your friend but man I'd like to do a standoff with him - where he'd have to leave his effects at home. I'm not even a competitive person, but he gets under my skin. I like those places Glendalough and Kilkenny. I've never had a bad time in Ireland. Except once. The song would probably end with me in a hotel in Dublin, days before Christmas, maybe 2004/2005 just after a tour ended; me on the phone, crying to my ex-girlfriend to take me back which resulted in her hanging up on me. It was so beautiful and Christmassy in Dublin, just down the street from Whelan's, and it was one of the loneliest tour nights of my tour life. Oh, and I'd mention how the food has gotten much better in Ireland since 1992, and how I still have old Irish pounds that my bank won't take and how I took them to several places to be exchanged and a woman said "donate them to a school for kids to study."
There's no phone at this hotel so I'm getting a wake up 'knock' from my pianist Ben at 10:45 a.m.
Going to read a little more of this Henry Miller (The Wisdom of The Heart) and drift off. We play Amsterdam tomorrow.
What's happening at Cannes? I mean I know what's happening there but are you in a film that's playing there? What are you working on now? You mentioned travel between four different places I believe. Vancouver, Manchester, etc.
(Mark Kozelek and Noah Taylor. San Diego Sports Arena. 1999)
Mark. 4:15 pm backstage Zonnehuis - North Amsterdam. 10/15/2018:
The venue is nice, formal. Beautiful old wainscoting. A grand piano. We just arrived and are settling into the venue. Nice staff. I wrote you on the plane on the way here today but accidentally erased it in my word document. This is now the short, rushed version. I meant to say: I'm sorry that I didn't address your father's passing in my email last night. You've lived through my biggest fear. Yes, there's I Love My Dad, but am more specific about my love for him in the song, Brothers (Mark Kozelek and Desertshore) and You Are Me and I am You (Jesu/Sun Kil Moon). I had more to say but I wanted to ask you: How old are you? How old were you when your father passed? Did you speak at his memorial? I'm 51, will be 52 in January. My dad will be 85 in November. He lives alone in a 3-bedroom house and is on Life Alert. He refuses to go into assisted living. He sleeps in a room with a 22 caliber and a 12 gauge. His friend John Wise (who I re-named Jim Wise) in Benji, killed his wife when she was suffering, then attempted suicide and the gun jammed. He was one of my dad's Panera Bread buddies. My dad was on his way to visit John in jail, when John died of a heart attack, chained to a cot. I interview my dad every time I go to Ohio. I want to know everything I can about him. He thinks doctor-assisted death should be legal and supported John's decision in the murder of his wife and his attempted suicide. So yeah, I worry about my dad. But he seems to have it figured out, has a plan (I think) in the event he can no longer take care of himself.
I won't send my dad a copy of This Is My Dinner. He'll say the same thing he always says: "I can't understand the lyrics. Your version of Little Drummer Boy is the best thing you ever did."
You described things going from circles to triangles when your dad passed. I don't know what's going to happen but I think my dad's passing is going to age me 20 years.
This was much more articulate on the plane but anyhow, Ben's playing piano downstairs and I gotta get down there for soundcheck.
Aidan. Hotel Intercontinental Cannes. Room 750. 10/15/2018 23.08:
What you said about your father and John Wise is heavy. I watched a lot of material about assisted suicide as research for a role recently so its within my field of vision. And regarding the songs, etc. parents tell it straight as they see it even if they’re wrong. My mother still worries about when my run of work is going to stop..
My Father dying was expected, he’d been sick for a while and was lucky that my mother was/is a nurse and could look after him at home. It was 13 years ago and that feels even longer now. I was 37 and working on a TV drama near Bath in England and when it became obvious it was near the end I told them I had to leave. I flew home and a couple of days later he was gone. We were taking turns sitting with him, holding his hand, etc. and feeding him melting ice cubes - he was in a bed in the downstairs room he used work in and I was with him when he took his last breath. Like I said it was startling and felt momentous, not like a spirit leaving a body or whatever, but a life that had been filled with enough joy and fear and love and intensity just ending and it was peaceful. Because it was Ireland we then laid him out in the bed, lit candles, etc. and people come by the house and pay their respects and have a drink or pray or whatever then a couple of days later you have the funeral. I was sleeping in the bedroom directly above and on both nights, I came down in the middle of the night and sat with him, his body for a while. Just in the dark, with some streetlight coming in. It wasn’t scary or macabre and you get used to the idea and the new state. I kept touching his face and hands and he never really got cold.
I didn't speak at the funeral, one of my older brothers did. I’d have been really nervous and I would have done it but I was glad when my brother Denis said he’d do it. We went to the graveyard then we all sat in the back garden. Next day I got the plane back to Bristol for Bath and it was awful sitting in the airport blanked out, exhausted with everything just happening as normal around you. It was like the sound was turned off. People on the job when I got back didn't know how to react and most people didn't say anything which I didn't really like but it’s kind of the English way, much more restrained about this kind of event than the Irish, who will show up at a stranger’s funeral..
So, I'm 50 now and I like it, like Henry Miller. Had my birthday in Vancouver in April last in towards the end of a long TV shoot. They gave me a cake, etc. on set and the director (who’d nicely tricked me into walking into a room where the crew were assembled) said some nice things and then we went back to work. I didn't have a party or anything or go out cos the schedule was tough and every night I’d have to learn the next day’s scenes. The show is set in the 1950s in the US - a lot in Ohio actually- it’s called Project Blue Book and is about the emergence of the UFO phenomenon, the hysteria that it created and the government’s reaction and investigation into it. I'm playing Allen Hynek, a real guy, who became quite well known and it was one of his books that led directly to Spielberg making Close Encounters of the Third Kind. That's what I'm doing in Cannes - I'm here with some producers and fellow cast at a TV sales festival where you have screenings and help try and create interest and sell the thing to channels around the world.. Not my natural or most comfortable environment but it’s part of the gig. Today a few of us escaped for a few hours to a very pretty if touristy mountain medieval village called Saint-Paul de Vence which had a nice breeze and no executives.
I used to live really near Whelan's, I liked living round there. And regarding reading John Connolly to music I did something similar at a festival in Ireland called Electric Picnic, reading stories from Denis Johnson’s Jesus' Son with John Murry and Clive Barnes doing songs from John's The Graceless Age alternating with the stories and free forming in between so everything ran together. It was a bit scrappy at times but to be fair we only met 30 mins beforehand but had discussed on the phone and email how we’d work it.. Don’t know if you know John but he’s connected to your friend Tim Mooney I believe.
(Aidan with John Murry and Olaf Tyaransen. Photo by Richard Walshe.)
Do you rate Denis Johnson? I hope you do, at least a bit because his style and world remind me of you and your stuff somewhat. Jesus’ Son has great stories in it I think, The Laughing Monsters too is a really good book, at least the first 3/4 of it
Incidentally, you can cash those Irish pounds at the Central Bank in Dublin. My friend Tom lives in London but he found about 300 Irish pounds (or punts) in an old jacket of his fathers. He gave it to me and I brought it in and they changed it. You have to fill in a form and go to another special part of the bank to get paid off. It’s been out of circulation for 20 years or whatever but it still has value. I said to the guy in the bank “I’d say you don’t see much of these notes” and he said “are you joking me? We see plenty of it - an old woman came in with 45 grand of it in a battered case the other day.."
Mark. Valk Hotel Schiphol. Room 208. 1:00 a.m. 10/16/2018:
I'm so tired right now - too tired to read anything. We just played three hours and my back is killing me. I'm getting my things sorted in the room so to be ready for the early call to Slovenia tomorrow a.m.. Will be emailing you from the airplane or from Slovenia tomorrow night, where we'll have a night off. I look forward to reading what you wrote. Going to pack up and soak in the tub for a bit and hopefully get 4 or 5 hours of sleep. More tomorrow. All of my best
Mark. Flight Adria 123 Seat 2A Amsterdam to Ljubljana 10/16/2018:
I think I slept maybe four hours last night. How it usually works is that the show ends and then it takes 2 hours to get out of the venue, an hour to sort my stuff at the hotel so I'm ready in the morning, and hopefully I'm asleep an hour later. My jetlag clock woke me up at 5:50 a.m. and I laid there until my call at 8 a.m.
I just got recognized at the Amsterdam airport by a woman who said that her and her husband danced to my version of Bad Boy Boogie last year at their wedding in DC. I can’t even remember what my version sounds like– but that’s the first I’ve heard of that song being played at a wedding.
On your dad, I know of the experience of knowing that it’s coming, and getting into those final days - but not with a parent. This happened with my ex-girlfriend Katy (after we broke up) who sadly died of cancer at 34. There’s a lot of Katy in my music – she still inspires me – always will. I still live in the apartment that we shared together. I know you like the April album and that's her I'm singing about in Tonight the Sky.
This also happened with my ex-girlfriend’s mother. My girlfriend at that time was 24, I was 39. I was with her when her mom took her last breath and it was me who closed her mother’s eyes. Her father didn’t want to do it, and my ex, an only child, didn’t want to do it either. It was just the four of us in the room when her mother passed. I looked over her mother’s body that night while my ex wailed into the night on the porch. That all happened in Santa Cruz. I used to have a nice relationship with Santa Cruz, but it was a long, somber summer and I've not been back since. Lots of time spent in hotels near Santa Cruz and Los Gatos Hospitals during that time.
On my dad, I don’t know what it is, but I think he’s going to go suddenly at some point. I can’t picture him fading the way that his father did. My dad and I went through things very thoroughly when I saw him last time – in regards to his death and his will and what he wants when he goes. He doesn’t want a memorial. He wants a party – if everyone can get along and agree on where it should be. The strangest thing is that I’m petrified of the thought of speaking at his party, or whatever it works out to be. I get up on stage and use my voice for a living – but speaking at my father’s memorial is a different situation. The thought of it makes me want to vomit, crawl under a bed and die. I can’t summarize my relationship with my dad - for what has now been 51 years. Maybe I’ll just sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow and leave it at that. That's his favorite song. My dad’s a tough guy – looks like Charles Bronson. At 84 he’s got swagger. The girls at Panera Bread fawn over him. And his favorite song is Somewhere Over the Rainbow! I love him so fucking much.
I know of John Murray. I know Tim produced a record for him that did well. But I’ve never heard John. Like Blackstar by Bowie, it took me awhile to get to it - because of his death. Same with Tim in regards to John's album. I associate the album with Tim too much, but I'll get to it, in time.
I’ve got a picture of Tim from his memorial in my bookcase in San Francisco, a memorial which I had to miss because I was in Japan. I’ve maybe talked about Tim onstage about three times and I always start crying. The last time I saw Tim was in Petaluma, where he was having ice cream with his daughter. I’m tearing up thinking of that picture. I’m lonely and sleep deprived and all of these thoughts of Tim just flashed through my mind. Like the first time I met him. Tim looked like James Dean in 1989 and he looked like James Dean into his early 50s. My most personal memory of Tim is one I don’t mind sharing. I was in Austin and he left a message on my home machine – back in the answering machine days. I was listening to his message and he said he’d just finished reading the foreword of my lyric book, and that it made him want to make some more music with me when I got back from.... and he didn't finish the sentence. He started to cry and hung up the phone. I’ve told Jude, his widow, this story, and she finds it out of character for Tim. But it happened. Tim was reserved, stoic, wise, well spoken, hard to read and didn’t show a lot of emotion. But he spilled on that message. Tim loved making music – whether playing drums or producing. He loved helping others. Am glad I got to pass through this life and spend some time with Tim.
That sounds like an interesting movie you're promoting. You worked in Ohio. What part? I’m still hearing about parts of Ohio I never heard of.
If Denis Johnson is a writer, I don’t know of him. I know the movie Jesus’ Son. I watched that in a hotel in L.A while waiting around for the rehearsals of Almost Famous. I didn’t know of many of the actors so they brought me a VCR and I watched Jesus’ Son to get a look at Billy’s work. He was the hardest working guy on that set. I’ve got a lot of respect for Billy.
It sounds like you’re having a good time in Cannes. I have a good time on stage, but dislike much of the rest of it. I don't get to hang out anywhere for any length of time so it's a grind. This band I’m traveling with now - we were talking about how there are these brief windows on tour that are enjoyable. Like, if you somehow end up with two hours to yourself before soundcheck and you’re not too tired to take a walk around the block. Or if you find time to get a haircut. Little things like that – where you can step outside of the tour and appreciate your surroundings in a normal, everyday way.
I’m so exhausted from the last four shows that when I get to Ljubljana I’m going to get lunch with the guys and then spend the rest of the day/night alone. Alone time is the most valuable thing to me, on tour. Shutting the hotel door behind me and decompressing, and listening to nothing.
I’ve not turned on a TV since this tour began. I don't watch TV on tour. I was once having the most peaceful tour of my life. Three weeks in Asia and I didn’t turn on the TV because I knew if I did there would be some horrific toxicity on CNN and it would break my peace. But I was in Seoul and I had this nice suite they put me up in, and I gave into temptation and turned on CNN. The Batman shooter was all over the news. The Denver shooting. I didn’t understand it. Didn’t know if it happened while they were filming Batman. Didn’t know what was going on. I turned it off and later learned it was a shooting in a movie theater.
You’re a hard-working actor. I respect that. I like your questions and everything we’re talking about. You're 50. I like that too. More on that later maybe.
If I could live a two more lifetimes, I’d live one of them in Japan and the other in Sweden. Both are magical, peaceful places - to me. I’ve got nothing but positive associations with both places. Of all the places I tour, I like Japan and Sweden the best. Where do you like to go? Is there a place where you visit, where it breaks your heart to have to leave?
Mark. Mhotel Ljubljana. Room 126. 5:47 pm. 10/16/2018:
You know how it goes with travel. You never get in when you think you will. We got in later than expected and had some good Indian food. I've got a herpes blister breaking out on my upper lip on the left side. It happens about every other tour. Am taking Lysine and putting Abreve on it. The stress of every day travel causes my immune to get a little weak. This means I'm gonna sleep as much as I can tonight and not leave the room until I have to. The venue is a few blocks away. The show is tomorrow. On the way back from lunch I went to a grocery store and am set for the night. I got water and oranges and vegetables. My room is an apartment with 3 beds and a cot. It's all mine but I'm on the cot furthest from the window. I hate street noise. I have no bedside lamp near the cot. I might move some beds around later but right now I like this cot and this area of the room. I've got one of those clip-on things for reading.
(Mark Kozelek live in Ljubljana)
What's next for you after Cannes?
Aidan. Dublin 18.44 10/20/18:
Think I met John Murry through playing your song Tavouris Cloud on the radio (every now and then a couple of the djs in Dublin let me do their slots when they're on holiday or whatever, playing records, chatting a bit). I played Bad Boy Boogie there too, I could see that as a wedding song - it's one of my personal favourites of yours. I've played Harper Road.. After Cannes back here to Dublin losing most of my stuff on the way then I'm off to London then Manchester back to Peaky Blinders.. Our thing was set sometime in Ohio but we shot in Vancouver.. The magic of movies. Or TV rather, cos that's what it is.. Places I like to be most? Dingle in Kerry in the west of Ireland which is a magical place, mentioned it earlier, I love Spain, had hiking trips there last 3 consecutive years with the same 2 friends and we got some great routes of about 6 days and always had good luck with the weather. The Pyrenees and the Picos de Europas. I love Mexico very much and have had some great times there, from when I first spent 6 weeks crisscrossing the country on buses and trains in 1994 through more trips over the years.. The Barrancas Del Cobre railway up through the mountains in Chihuahua, the beach at San Blas, wandering through Creel before dawn looking to buy a bus ticket and eventually following a dog who showed me the way.. throwing homemade firecrackers (gunpowder in triangular wads of newspaper in tape) off the balcony of an old posada in Durango on Christmas Eve, swimming in Las Tres Cenotes outside of Merida in the Yucatan and riding on the horse drawn railway that connects them.. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry is a great Mexico book. It's broken my heart leaving a lot of places- Baltimore, New York, Dublin, Mexico.
Mark. Mercure Hotel. Budapest. Room 792. 8:18 pm. 10/21/2018:
I just woke up from a nap. We played Istanbul last night, got back to the hotel by 2 a.m. I was up doing emails for an hour, had an early wake up call, then ended up here. Though I was tired, I've been feeling fat and doughy so I shadowboxed with two 1500 ML water bottles through the entire songs of “Greggery Peccary” by Zappa, and “Street Hassle,” by Lou Reed. I did 40 push-ups and some stomach exercises; Europeans are so skinny. I feel like a slouch over here.
Harper Road. That one's about my ex-girlfriend and all the stuff I mentioned above; that sad summer in Santa Cruz.
That's interesting that you lost your stuff, just after I'd written to you about worrying about leaving things behind on tours.
Regarding leaving places, it also breaks my heart to leave New York, and Dublin (tours often end in Dublin, for some reason), and my heart was broken, leaving Oaxaca, Mexico in the mid-1990s. My band played just outside of Mexico City and from their I took a bus to Oaxaca, with my girlfriend, who was studying Spanish down there. I was there for a few months. My only responsibility was having to call my manager collect from payphones every few days, to see if I needed to get back to the States for any reason. I was having a great time down there. I was 30, she was 23. I ate chapulines every day and I adored all of the homeless kids. I'd give them money and my girlfriend would get mad and say I was perpetuating a homeless problem down there. I said Fuck That. Those kids slept in the streets, the curbs were their pillows. I gave them pesos every day. Other than her and I having differences over the homeless, it was great time. I think the rent on her place was 200 dollars a month. We were in that early phase of the relationship and well, I was nuts about her. In fact, it was in that apartment that I first told her I loved her. Anyhow I called my manager one day and he told me that The Cardigans wanted us to open for them in the States. Their song Love Fool was big then, so yeah, I had to say goodbye to Leslie, and to Mexico, and fly up to Seattle to start the tour. It broke my heart to leave Mexico, but we all got along with the Cardigans so it was hard saying goodbye to them, also. I like Spain, too. Bilbao will be the last show of this tour, and I'm staying an extra day for the Tortilla and Jamon Serrano and it's one of the few places in the world where I'll drink coffee.
So, it's 8:30 pm here and I'm not sure what to do. I've got some yogurt and nuts and enough water to get me through the night, but I need some batteries for my music stand light, so I can read my small telephone book sized lyric sheets on stage. I may go try to find a grocery store, if one is open.
So, what's the role you've never played, that you want to play?
Aidan: Dublin. 10/21/2018:
don't know- they're usually new to me so I don't know yet. The ones that have been done before have been done before..
You're 50, so you should had gotten a colonoscopy. I had to get one when I turned 50. Doctor's orders. It scared the fuck out of me. But then I woke up on that Michael Jackson drug, propofol, with three girls who looked exactly the same, saying "Mark, Mark, wake up, wake up!" It was surreal and dreamlike. Then the guy who did the procedure said "no polyps, no cancer, see you in 10 years!" The buzz from the propofol. Whoa. It was the happiest day of my life. My girlfriend never looked so beautiful. On propofol, the diner across the street looked like the nicest restaurant I'd ever seen. I was like Scrooge, at the end. But then 24 hours later I was back to reality, which isn't so bad!
not yet. You make it sound good though..
At 50, it's something you should look into. I'm surprised your doctor hasn't recommended it. My collaboration with Sean Yeaton called Yellow Kitchen is basically a concept album about my colonoscopy. Check that one out sometime. And who knows, maybe I'll check out an episode of Game of Thrones. I'll be sure to check out Peaky Blinders when I get to a TV with some English channels.
Aidan Seat 3a BA827 Dublin to London Heathrow. 10/23/2018:
So back to your new record which I've been listening to some more. How have people been responding when you've been playing these new songs live on current dates - I imagine people in Norway will be all over the song This is My Dinner for example and it's one of my favourites but I've not been to Norway.. Candles I love quite a lot, the Elliott Smith reference I didn't see coming and it brought a tear to my eye walking down the street in Dublin listening to it, just after I'd been smiling about IKEA ice trays. I guess what I'm pondering on is whether you have to have any experience of these places to be moved.. I imagine it's not mandatory.
(Accelerator Festival Article, Stockholm, 2000: Read Here)
Mark. Scandic Hotel Room 623. Stockholm 1:00 a.m. 10/24/2018:
It's interesting that you mentioned Elliott Smith as I'm in the city right now where I very last saw him - Stockholm. It was July 5, 2000. We did a short tour together over here and the last time we spoke was on July 4 in Goteborg. Honestly, Elliott looked very stressed out, there in the food court of the Accelerator Festival in Stockholm. I ran off with some friends and didn't bother to say goodbye to him. I thought I'd see him around again like every other musician I see once or twice a year. Plus, he looked like he didn't want to be bothered. On stage - Elliott was Ali. He was Bobby Fischer. He was the greatest. You couldn't tell anything was off. Off stage, it was a different story. I won't bother with what I speculate the issues to have been. But, I dedicated my song The Black Butterfly to him last night in Budapest, as 30 minutes before my show, I was reminded that he died 15 years ago, yesterday. The Black Butterfly is partly about a dream I had about Elliott, from the Mark Kozelek with Ben Boye and Jim White album.
The songs that were written for one city or another, are strangely going over well, pretty much everywhere we play them. There is some universal thread that will bring the audience together - even if it's me singing about how I hate Steely Dan (which always gets lots of cheers). The song This Is My Dinner always a goes over well. It puts people in a spell. There are relatable lines, like 'its scenic beauty cannot be captured in pictures." I think there's a lot to relate to in that song. And the girl who was so broke that all she could afford was a Snickers. Lots of people have been that broke at some point or another in their life. And I try to free form a bit, every night - tie the city I'm playing in, into the city I'm singing about.
We actually wrote “Candles” at soundcheck in Stockholm last year, played it for the first time here - that night - which went over great. We'll play the more rehearsed version for them tomorrow - but it won't have the same charm it did as the first time around. That's always how it goes!
Regarding that album, Mark Kozelek with Ben Boye and Jim White, I see you have Jim White playing drums on this one too.. I've seen/heard him with many artists I like over the years (Will Oldham, PJ Harvey, Cat Power, Nick Cave, Bill Callaghan and more too..). He's a kind of touchstone of the best of indie/folk/rock.. What's your history together?
I saw him live in San Francisco in maybe 1995-ish - the band Low opening. Jim was with The Dirty Three at that time. I don't know what the other 2 players were doing because all I saw was Jim. It was the best drum performance I'd ever seen in my life up to that point - and he didn't break a sweat. I never thought in a million years I'd ever play with him. But in 2016, I sang at a Lou Reed benefit and Jim was the drummer. We exchanged numbers, kept in touch - and the following February he and Ben and I got together and made an album together. He and I have since made another album, called Mark Kozelek with Donny McCaslin and Jim White, which will be out March 1, 2019. Donny was David Bowie's sax player on Blackstar.
(Mark Kozelek with Donny McCaslin and Jim White, Hyde Street Studios, February 2018)
Nice to see David Cassidy get a song on the album.. I grew up with the Partridge Family as well and my brothers and sisters and I always thought he was very cool. I met his brother Shaun once and he was a really nice, down to earth guy so David probably was too..
I watched the show too, but mainly I loved his book: C'mon, Get Happy. I loved the part about him meeting people on tour and how he always wanted to ask people about them. But how people just wanted to talk to him about him, and how exhausting it was for him.
(David Cassidy, C'mon Get Happy)
Sorry about your cat. The end of the This is my Dinner track is pretty sad. I always considered myself a dog man but I've been touched by the cats in your songs. Three of my favourite songs of yours (Harper Road, Tavouris Cloud, and The Winery) all have cats in them or at least a description of someone like a cat which is just as good. And there's the Cats of Martinez, some Scandinavian cats I read on the internet you'd been singing about recently and probably a lot more I can't think of right now.
(Aidan in London, 2009, with Treacle Jr.)
I have a song called The Winery? That's how you know you've made a lot of albums - when you don't know half of the the requests people are shouting for. Yeah that's right - about This Is My Dinner - what I hear most about that one, is how much people relate to the part about my cat dying while I was overseas. My songs have endless amounts of references to cats. They stopped a bit when my own two cats died. But then my girlfriend got a cat and now her cat gets referenced a lot in albums from the last 3 or 4 years. The end of Blood Test - from Mark Kozelek with Ben Boye and Jim White, is all about my girlfriend's cat.
Do you like Black Metal? Some friends of mine had a band from New York called Hamsoken and they toured with a Nordic Black Metal band - they said it was great apart from the main act carrying rotting goat carcasses on the tour bus for putting out on stage.. Fuck maybe don't put this one in..
Let's keep it. I really know very little about the metal world. I did two collaborations albums with my friend Justin Broadrick from Godflesh - a legend in the metal world, and we did three tours together. I love his band Godflesh - have played guitar with them a few times. I remember being outside of their concert once, in Toronto, and the fans were in line fact checking each other on their metal; who played in what bands, on what tours, during what years, and with what other bands. It was this subculture that I found fascinating - that I thought I'd learn more about from playing with Justin - but all I learned was that I know absolutely nothing about black metal or death metal. The only metal I know anything about is the metal I grew up on - Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath. And I love the band Sleep, from San Jose. I saw them play for 15 people back in 1990, and saw them play for 1,500 people just a few years ago, when they reunited.
But enough about me! A friend sent me a you-tube clip of you in Peaky Blinders, "Story of Polly X Aberama."
You remind me of Gary Oldman, in that one. So that's a fourth great actor you remind me of. I've got the first two weeks of November off and I'm going to put that show on my list of things to watch when I get home.
Have a good shoot in London and Manchester. I'm doing well here in Sweden. I either lived here in another life, or I've lived a lot of lifetimes here already.
(Mark Kozelek, Stockholm, December 2000)