Music is the one thing that comes closest to meeting all my essential desires.- ME
I featured The Ultimate Bearhug in my Favorite Finds of 2011. I have also mentioned once or twice that their album, Just South of Los Angeles, has been high on my list of most anticipated albums for 2012. Well, it’s finally out. It was released on April 21st… and after spending a couple months getting cozy with it, I wanted to make sure I shared it with all of you. Sorry, I was selfish; I really should’ve shared it sooner. It’s now available on iTunes. You can find a link on their WEBSITE. (If you’re around LA, go see them live and pick up a hard copy at a show!!)
It would be really great if you downloaded the album now and started listening. Why you ask? Because it’ll be a killer soundtrack for what is to come. Also, I recommend a good pair of headphones. Just trust me on this one.
I’ve had the opportunity to do something with this post that I’ve never done before: INTERVIEW THE BAND. Now, here’s the thing … I’ve read countless band interviews over the past couple of weeks, because I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, and guess what I discovered? Band interviews bore me! Blasphemous, huh? It’s not that they are all bad — the delivery just seems wrong so much of the time, and the same questions get asked over and over. I am going to try to make this fun. But I may have gotten carried away [with the question asking]. I do that when I’m excited.
I can’t tell you what a pleasure it was to chat with these guys. First of all, I adore their album. It’s smashing.* Second: they are hilarious. Third: they are down right decent human beings. You know, the kind I like — authentic and honest. Fourth: they are both passionate and talented, truly inspirational.
But, I’ve gotta tell you, being that this was my first interview and all . . . I couldn’t help but feel nervous, not unlike a first date — a blind date, at that. I don’t think I was terribly awkward, but I definitely had butterflies in my stomach. I suppose since music fulfills my needs in a way no man has proven capable, the date analogy isn’t too far off. (Fellas, that’s not a dig. Bless your attempts, I’m a handful.) Barrett and Doll were both incredibly gracious and patient; they were quite gentle with me. Many thanks to them for making my first time so great.
What is the first concert you attended?
Barrett: My first concert Is my first memory – Keith Green. I was three or four years old, sitting in a field watching this concert. It’s truly my earliest memory. But the first show that I bought and paid for was Lenny Kravitz, at the H.O.R.D.E Festival.
Doll: Ok, this is embarrassing. I was ten or eleven years old, visiting family and my aunt surprised me and my cousin with tickets to Ricky Martin.
How about the best or most memorable concert?
Barrett: Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters was an early concert that blew my mind. I’ve been to a number of Jesca Hoop shows that really left an impression. Richard Swift, too. I try to catch him whenever he’s in town. But, there are too many good ones to count.
Doll: Dr. Dog puts on an amazing show, but it’s hard to say best. Also memorable: Ray LaMontagne, David Gray, and Swell Season.
How about the worst concert?
Barrett: I don’t know. I like to cut people slack. I’d rather see someone play badly than see someone playing to tracks off a cd. When I go to see live music I want to see people playing instruments.
Doll: The only time I’m truly disappointed is if the live version is vastly different that their recorded music.
Who is your dream band to tour with?
Doll: Dr. Dog – they put on such a good show and they have so many dedicated fans! They have an amazing energy and I think they’d be really fun to tour with. They tour non-stop; in one year I saw them three times, in the same city.
Barrett: Yeah. I would do that; I would tour with them. There are a lot of bands I’d like to tour with: Jesca Hoop, Richard Swift, Fiona Apple.
Doll: It’s important for the band to be really invested in putting on a great live performance. I’d want to tour with someone who has a lot of creative control. They’d have to be pretty stand up people, too. We’ve got to get along with them for a while.
What’s the first album you purchased?
Barrett: U2, “War”.
Doll: I went to Tower Records, and with my own money I bought three: NSYNC, “No Strings Attached”; Britney Spears, “Hit Me One More Time”; and a Greatest Hits album by Barbara Streisand.
Is there a song, or band, or type of music that when you hear it your immediate reaction is: make it stop?
Doll: If I ever hear, Smoke That Kush, I wanna take a hammer to the radio.
Barrett: We’d much rather talk about the under rated song-writers than the over rated ones. This could get to be a long list.
What albums are heavy in your listening rotation this year?
Barrett: Sydney Wayser, “Bell Choir Coast”; Tom Waits, “Bad is Me”; Jesca Hoop, “Hunting My Dress”.
Doll: Fleet Foxes, “Helplessness Blues”; Dr. Dog, “Be The Void”; Regina Spektor, “What We Saw From The Cheap Seats”; and The Tallest Man On Earth, “The Wild Hunt”.
What’s your go-to album when you’re sad?
Barrett: Doll is always in a good mood. ALWAYS. I go through a symphony of emotions in day, but Doll — she’s always up.
Doll: Hey! I have my moments sometimes. I’d say, Ray Lamontagne’s “Trouble” or Chet Baker’s “The Best of Chet Baker Sings”.
Barrett: Joni Mitchell’s “Blue”. I’m not even a huge Joni fan, but that record… that record is huge for me. I’ll listen to Randy Newman if I’m trying to pull myself out of a funk.
What is your favorite word?
Doll: Conglomerate – it just sounds good.
Barrett: Do you know what my guy friends would do to me if I said, “Hey fellas – what’s your favorite word?” My favorite words are first names, or nicknames. I love that they are personal. I always give people nicknames.
What is your least favorite word?
Doll: I have so many. But I one hundred percent cannot stand the word Poop. Ewww. I just hate it!
Barrett: Does a phrase count? I don’t ever want to hear someone say Brain Fart. I don’t know why. Fart is fine, it’s not that. But brain fart, ugh.
What is your favorite curse word?
Doll: Oh my goodness, how’d you know?! All of them. Fuck. I love fuck. I am such a fan of curse words.
Barrett: Anytime I can misuse the word SHIT… (ie) What the shit?
Is there a song or poem that resonates so deeply you wish you’d written it?
Doll: Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel. Or, Jackie Wants A Black Eye – Dr. Dog
Barrett: Probably something Tom Waits or Bob Dylan – there’s so many.
Doll: Just Like a Woman – outstanding lyrics!
Barrett: Doll and I both love Sam Cooke. The lyric, Darlin’ you Send me… we both love that lyric.
What are your favorite lyrics from your album, Just South of Los Angeles?
Doll: We probably both agree on this. Woke up late, all the lyrics. Those are close to our perfect. We expressed what we really wanted in that song. Of course, I really like saying “fuck” in Foolish Things.
Barrett: Yeah, I agree, and in Just South of Los Angeles, the line, Champagne’s no fun without you. I love the sentiment in that.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Doll: I definitely always wanted to sing. I just wanted to perform. I’d always put on little shows in the living room. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Except for a momentary lapse when I was really into astronomy and I thought I’d be an astronomer. That didn’t last long.
Barrett: I wanted to be Popeye when I grew up. And I’m pretty close. Give me a corncob pipe and I’m pretty much there.
Is there a specific talent you wish you had?
Doll: Yes, there are plenty. There are so many. I could rattle a ton off.
Barrett: For me, I just want to expand on my musical knowledge. I just want to hone my craft. I want to do what I do, better. I can’t think of anything outside of music. Doll, let’s hear your list.
Doll: I wish I could play the piano really well. That’s one of my goals. I’m a horrible dancer. I wish I could dance. I secretly wish I could bust out a pop and lock hip-hop routine. When I was a kid I wanted to be a really fast swimmer. I want to be a good snowboarder. I want to invent something. Oooh, I wish I was really technologically skilled. That would come in handy with music; you know if I had a brain for understanding equipment.
Barrett: You’re crazy. You are not a horrible dancer. Though it would be helpful if you were a really fast swimmer. *grins and rolls eyes* I guess my answer should be: dance just a little better than Doll.
Do you have a favorite show on television?
Doll: I don’t have a television, but I love watching seasons of, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, when I can. I also love the old Twilight Zone.
Barrett: Seinfeld and Arrested Development.
Barrett: I just love anything the Cohen Brothers have made! Doll and I both love film.
Doll: Way too Hard! I won’t do it… I refuse to answer this, I’ll cry if you make me! *pouts ever-so-sweetly* I do love best friend movies: Fox and the Hound. Simon Birch. Beaches. When Harry Met Sally. Oh and Pirate Radio was really good.
Describe your most memorable moment to date.
Doll: The day we met. It was a Sunday. The sky was blue. The end. Just kidding, we both believe it is yet to come.
ON THE IMPORTANT STUFF
What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?
Doll: I would live as a vagabond. If funds would never run out, I would just travel and live in different places for a few months at a time and then move on.
Barrett: Well, I don’t have the guarantee of not failing. But I’m doing it. As a musician you have to get over so much fear. I’m doing the thing. We both are.
If you weren’t pursuing music you’d be?
Doll: Depressed, wishing I was.
Barrett: I’d be a male escort.
What makes you mad (in a pet peeve sort of way)?
Doll: When someone is lazy or unmotivated or when someone is superficial.
Barrett: When people are completely unaware of their surroundings, people who talk very loud. Also, when Doll doesn’t answer her phone.
What makes you really mad (in a social justice sort of way)?
Doll: Bullying and any violence. It breaks my heart into a million microscopic pieces impossible to re-assemble without a tub of ice cream.
Barrett: That we are over-taxed.
Both: That some still starve, even here.
Is there a Cause or Charity you are passionate about?
Doll: Cancer research.
Barrett: I feel strongly about Charity Water; clean water and feeding people. We both feel very strongly about giving.
What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity and how do you move through it?
Doll: Stress. You need to put on a wonderful album, clean your room, and then get back to it… stay persistent, but don’t let it compromise what you’re writing.
Barrett: Stress. Wait until it passes, it will.
ON EVERYTHING ELSE
What’s on your nightstand?
Barrett: A record player. Books. Sunglasses. Anything I’ve emptied from my pockets. And ear training discs.
Doll: Also a record player. The book, Into the Wild, which I just finished, and Dr. Pepper chapstick.
Are you a morning or night person?
Doll: Both! Barrett is definitely a night person.
Barrett: Yep, night.
Do you prefer Coffee or Tea?
Doll: Tea! I’m not a fan of coffee. It stunts your growth, duh.
Barrett: Tea, but I do love coffee.
What’s something about you that would surprise us?
Barrett: We are in an Ace of Base cover band. You’ve probably heard of us. We are called “Ace of Base Tribute Band”.
Doll: Barrett wears a wig.
Do you have a mantra or manifesto that centers you or reminds you how you want to live?
“No glove, no love.” And most of Kesha’s lyrics.**
Check out The Ultimate Bearhug’s irresistible charm and their sweet, sweet sounds!
I wish we shared the same space, I’d be insisting on future dates with these two. If music truly was my boyfriend, The Ultimate Bearhug would definitely be going down in ink in my little black book. I will be spending a lot of time with this album (for years to come).
* Doll doesn’t like the word SMASH, but I couldn’t help myself.
** When I asked them if there was a particular kind of music that caused them agony, I mentioned that my answer was Kesha. Aren’t they so witty, taking a shot at me like that?!