I'm playing the Life Is Sh*t Festival in Las Vegas Saturday Sept 23rd. They asked me to contribute something to their zine/program. Here's what I came up with...
Thoughts and Shit.
I ain't into fecal matter. But here we are in a festival called Life is Shit. And they've asked for some stuff for a zine...so..
1) I started working in a little guitar store when I was 14. I was desperate to learn my instrument and I would endlessly unabashedly hound the older experienced players for licks and tips. I met Jack Holten, an Italian American bass player who played with the all black Art 'Legs' Robbins and The Message when I overheard him talking about Tina Turner. He said, 'I'd eat through a mile of her shit to get to her asshole.' That was pretty intense for a 14 year old. Of course I loved him. His other occasional boast was that he 'smoked a joint with Sly Stone'. He gave me my first Al Green record which I thought came from Mars and would barely talk to me, me being so much younger, whiter and stoopid, but he also dismissively threw John Coltrane's A Love Supreme at me one time, (on cassette!) and said, 'Leave me alone! Go listen to this!'
2) When my Big As Life came out in '95, prior to being picked up by Universal, it was on a small indie in Austin where I was living. The record company owner heard that an up and coming white kid, (we won't mention any names), who was a 'blues rapper'(no really) was going to be playing and secured me an opening slot. What started as a packed house of 200, led to several tours and his rapid rise to packed house of 1200 kids was like nothing I had ever prior witnessed. I thought it was kinda corny really, but I went over well, although I was constantly checking myself to make sure I wasn't playing the lowest common denominator card. Frat boys, spring break gals. Anyway, I met his manager once before hopping onstage at The Metro in Chicago and I asked him frankly, of all the acts Frat Boy Blues Rapper could pick, why me? He said, 'He thinks you're the shit .' I had never heard the expression before. Twisting the negative by adding 'the'. Of course in 20 years it has entered the vernacular. I now have Hamell Is The Shit stickers, come see my show and say hi, I'll give you one for free. Of course Carlin has the whole 'take a shit' vs 'leaving a shit' thing.
3) Two years ago I toured extensively with The Uncluded, an amazing band comprised of Kimya Dawson of Moldy Peaches and Juno fame and Aesop Rock the hip hop artist. A great tour, attentive warm responsive audiences, amazing wonderful extremely talented artists who I loved both musically and as people....but they talked about bowel movements WAY too much.
4) I must confess when I see certain conservative Republican fascist female pundits using their little girl charms to advance their career while spewing venomous hate, Ann Coulter and Jillian Mele immediately come to mind, I picture them pinching a loaf and my blood pressure regains normality.
5) The old adage proclaims "Life is a shit sandwich, the more bread you have the less shit you have to eat". I couldn't disagree more. In the words of the mighty Biggie Smalls: "More money more problems." I think life is pretty great, after a couple near death experiences, suicides in the family and friends dropping like flies these days, I'm a sucker for life, wish I had another 100 years to keep on playing. I'm just doing the festival cuz I like the promoter and I need the money. Because the more bread I have the less shit I have to eat. That's not a contradiction, that's balance. I'm a Libra.
6) Two heroes of mine, Lenny Bruce and Elvis died on the toilet. Shit!