Okay, so I'm a big fan of Greg Dulli. I don't care if he's a little doughy around the edges, every utterance of "baby" is a knee-melter when it comes out of his mouth. He's also a great interview (here's the article). He's at the Doug Fir on Saturday, promising to play at least one song from every one of his albums. Afghan Whigs, Gutter Twins, Twilight Singers!! It's the world's best pu-pu platter.
MERCURY: Hi, how are you?
GREG DULLI: Doin’ really good.
Sorry it took me so long. I couldn’t figure out the international calling.
Believe me… [laughs], I tried to Skype somebody… I’m in the middle of the Mediterranean right now, so…
That sounds nice.
Not bad, it’s rainy, but it’s a beautiful place. Majorca.
How’s the tour going?
It’s going good. We played last night. That was six of six in a row, so it’s a well-deserved day off. I’m not as young as I used to be.
What were you up to on your day off?
I walked around the old town and I stared at yachts sitting in the harbor, then I had a drink and then I took a nap. Now I’m listening to this old record that I found in my computer. It’s this remixer named Elvin Estella from LA, who goes by the name of Nobody. He does remixes of people’s music, and I always loved this remix he did of the Zombies’ song “This Will Be Our Year.” I was just listening to that.
Footage from a recent date in Belgium—"Candy Cane Crawl":
Hit the jump for Greg's thoughts about his DJ name, Linda Ronstadt's twat, and so much more.
I saw a press release today that announced the name of the new Twilight Singers album, Dynamite Steps.
I didn’t know that came out today. I’m finally glad that I can tell people the name, because I’ve been talking and they’re like, “What’s the name of the album,” and I say, “I don’t know yet.” I’ve known for a long time, but [Sub Pop] told me not to tell anyone, so I was like, “All right.”
Can you tell me a little about the album? I really liked the Ani DiFranco duet, “The Blackbird and the Fox.”
I wish I could tell you that was indicative of the entire record, but I’m just not quite that easily pegged, even for me. The record is as all over the place as I always am, but it still has the strange cohesion that I somehow am able to corral every time. But, you know, fast ones, slow ones, hard ones, soft ones, rainbow colors, black and white, you know… loose and tight.
Are you playing any new songs at the shows?
We’ve played three at times. One of them is really intense to sing, so I’ve taken a break from that one for the last week. But we play at least two every night, and by the time I get back to America I’ll probably reload the gun. The two that we play every night are the “The Blackbird and the Fox” and “Never Say No Devil.” “Gunshots” is the one that come and goes based on my ability to hit the high notes [laughs].
Are you changing up the setlist every night?
Not like a wholesale change. Not like a Grateful Dead show where they play a completely new set every night… or so I hear… so I heard, when they were still a band. Maybe that’s a bad example. I would say we swap in and out four a night, based on a group of 31. We play about 21 a night, so that’s 10 in the chamber that can come in and out. There’s a couple where we’re making people scratch their heads. Unless we make you feel like scratching your head, we haven’t played a couple of them. There are just a couple weird covers that are completely freaking people out. They don’t understand what’s happening.
What are they?
We do a Basement Jaxx cover and we do a Chris Whitley cover. If we’re really feeling it we’ll do those. We were also doing a Big Star cover for a while, but it started to get really sad. I didn’t want to play it anymore. I knew Alex [Chilton, who died in March], and I was into doing it [at first] and then I was like, “I don’t want to do this one anymore.”
Is it strange being on your first solo tour?
It’s just another name. It feels the same—it’s guitar and piano and singing my songs. This one has a violin and a cello and acoustic guitar. It’s cool to do this in an intimate style, because next year we’re going to have the big rock show happening again. It’s cool to do it this way, although I have to say for three guys playing acoustic instruments we get it rocking pretty hard sometimes.
I’ve heard that!
We had it positively thundering last night. They had a nice wooden stage and we were all stomping our feet and the audience was stomping. It was like a fucking Greek wedding on a Mediterranean island. It was insane.
Looks like Portland is the last date of the tour. Anything special planned?
Well, I’ll tell you what—the last show of any tour tends to be the one that goes on the longest. I would imagine we’ll throw the kitchen sink at Portland. If they’re up for it, we have the ability to play over two hours. We usually clock in about an hour and 40, but we played two hours and 15 minutes in Baltimore. We played over two hours in Madrid. We played two hours in Dublin, so there are certain places where if you want it, you’ll get it.
I think we’ll want it. Is Shawn Smith going to be with you for the Portland show?
I think so. I haven’t talked with Shawn, but he said, yes he was going to play. Shawn’s very mysterious. I’m assuming that he will be there. Shawn is like Santa Claus. He shows up, flies down the chimney, sings the songs, and then disappears.
What are your musical plans after this tour?
There won’t be a whole lot of time for me, really. I’m doing a press tour in January. I’ll be out talking about myself for two weeks, in Europe at some point. So I think in December I’m going to relax. I own a couple bars, one of them in Los Angeles that I co-own with a couple friends, we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary on New Year’s Eve. Me and a couple of my friends are going to DJ that night, so I’m getting my show together. My DJ show.
Do you have a DJ name?
I have so many. I can’t remember what my last one was. My last one was…. When Tiger Woods was in trouble with all those ladies he was screwing around with, I was watching TV and they described this one lady as a waitress at an Orlando Perkins [restaurant]. I was like, “Orlando Perkins is a great DJ name.” So the last couple times I’ve DJed under the name Orlando Perkins. I have various other names too.
It sounds like an action star.
Yeah, he sounds a little dangerous. Like you might not want to fuck with Orlando Perkins.
Out of curiosity, have you read the 33 1/3 book about Gentlemen by Bob Gendron?
I’ve read some of it. I’d forgotten about the Linda Ronstadt question [Editor’s note: At one point, the Afghan Whigs' Electra labelmate Linda Ronstadt derided Gentlemen’s album cover as being inappropriate, walking the line of child pornography with its grown-up depiction of a young girl in bed and a young boy sitting beside her. Greg Dulli is quoted in Gendron’s book as saying, “I’m like, ‘Linda Ronstadt: You’re dressed like a whore on the cover of Living in the USA with roller skates, curls in your hair, and shorts up to your twat. Fuck you.’ That was my attitude toward Linda Ronstadt, who was a great singer. Now’s she’s kind of a bore.”]
That’s all I’m going to say, ’cause when I got to that I was like, “Oh my god, I hope my mom doesn’t read this.” I loved talking to that guy. One day I’ll eventually read it. It’s the same thing with any movie I’ve been in… I can’t watch it. Can’t look at it. Can’t read about it. Can’t. I’m entirely too self-conscious about all that stuff. People are like, “Hey, did you see your YouTube thing?” I’m like, “Nope! And I won’t either.” I tend to get overly self-conscious. I’m a very in-the-moment kind of person. I will say that the Linda Ronstadt thing: I laughed, but I cringed [laughs]. Oh no, but it’s funny, and possibly even true.
I’m a really big fan, so it’s been a great talking with you. I can’t wait for the show.
Like I said, the final show you have to think that you’re going to see something good. If we can’t do it be then, we were in trouble the whole time. All right, darlin’, have a good one.