Where are you?
In Leeds, England. They have some good festivals here -- they have the Leeds and Reading festivals, probably the most famous, as well as Glastonbury festival -- but I think the German festivals are better. The only place you can see Rammstein and The Venga Boys on the same stage.
So what took you so long in releasing Hooray for Boobies?
Well, we were going to get sued by Pink Floyd, so that held us up for a few months.
For the lyric “All in all you’re just another dick with no balls?”
From “Right Turn Clyde,” yeah. Their lawyers didn’t like it, but when Roger Waters heard it, he gave us permission. So that was one hold up... And we’d been on the road for a year and a half anyway, so we really needed a break before starting on this album. Then it took us about eight months to record it. It actually came out in Europe about six months before it came out in America.
Why was that?
When we did our first record -- and you guys were one of the only ones who reviewed it -- things were kind of even on both coasts, Europe and America. But with our second record, things went well in America but they went really well here in Europe. So with this record, we decided to focus a lot more on Europe, and it’s been really over the top. We’ve been headlining festivals, going number one with the singles and the album... So we’ve been touring Europe since May of ’99, going back to America to do a few tours, but mostly concentrating on Europe. We have a stronghold in Russia now.
Do they really understand the references?
A lot of times, their English is better than mine. And if they don’t get a joke or a reference, they just go on Altavista or some other search engine and look up trivia on Small Wonder or Eight is Enough or whatever. I just introduced Germany to the Snoopy Snow Cone machine. And Norwegians had never heard of a turtlehead before.
You’re a junk culture embassador! What was your upbringing, your childhood, like?
Well, when I first started, the older kids, the football players, would kick the crap out of me, but when the kids in my grade were the older kids and they were the football players, I didn’t really have a problem with anyone. I hung out with the kids in vocational school in the Iron Maiden shirts, and I hung out with the quarterback as well. My grades weren’t that good, but I finished college, and I basically did this to get laid and so I wouldn’t have to get a real job.
You seem to’ve had a good run...
Yeah, I can’t complain. I might be working at McDonalds in three months, but it’s going good for now.
Cuz how many times has, ya know, the funny guy, the class clown or whatever, ended up mowing lawns, flipping burgers, or being yet another desk jockey in some nameless, faceless office?
Yeah, there’s not a big market for telling poopy jokes over disco loops, but I think I cornered it.
Do you watch stand-up comedy or hang out with comics?
No, those guys creep me out. They’ve all been abused or emotionally rejected or whatever. And most stand-up comics are really boring to hang out with anyway. I certainly don’t consider myself a comic, I’m just a low-brow entertainer. I’m hardly a musician or a comedic talent...
In “Three Point One Four” you name-drop Janeane Garofalo, what’s the story there?
It’s just rare that I laugh at a female comedian because I think most of them are very unfunny, so I had to give her props.
How would you say you write the lyrics? Do you have notebooks, scraps of paper, a laptop, a micro-recorder?
I write all the lyrics at once, after we’ve recorded the music for the record. The ideas usually come to me when we’re out on the road, and I have this thing for driving alone... When you drive for 10 hours straight, you start to hallucinate. I write stuff on little pieces of paper, and then drop it on the laptop later. And the funny thing is, I can never read what I scribbled. But sometimes what it looks like I wrote down is funnier that what I meant to write down.
While some lines just cut right to it, like “You know what I really want in a girl? Me,” where the hell did you come up with “playing harmonica with her pussy”?
A friend of mine took me to a really family-oriented restaurant in L.A. where the waiters do magic tricks while you wait, and she told the waiter she could do magic tricks, too. And he’s like, “Really? Like what?” And she says, “I can play the trumpet with my cunt.” I thought it was really funny. But I changed it to a harmonica because the air blows both in and out like...” (makes sound like a sick moose dry-humping a mattress on a squeaky boxspring)
What are some other oddities you’ve used for lyrical inspiration?
Well, there’s the song about getting a lap dance... True story. One of the guys from Marilyn Manson took me to a strip club and I got a lap dance with a Russian girl. Just to be polite or whatever, I asked how she was and how things were going, and instead of being normal and saying fine or something, she started telling me how it’d been three years since she’d been home to Russia and that her Grandmother had recently passed away. Tears started welling up in her eyes, but at the same time, she’s grinding her naked body into my lap. And I thought that image pretty much summed up my life.
Does your label or management or whatever ever tell you to change anything? I mean, aside from editing that monkeys-beat-the-beret-wearing-guys out of the video cuz someone thought it was fag-bashing...
It’s really rare. There are a few songs the label won’t release, like “Yellow Fever.” It’s a song about me wanting to bang an Asian girl, and there was also “The Twelve Days of Kwanza” that never saw the light of day.
Twelve days of what?
Kwanza. It’s an African holiday that they just, ya know, made up. It’s around Christmas and Hanukkah.
You write much of the music, too, right?
Yeah, well, the parts that aren’t stolen, at least.
But even the stuff you steal, I see it in an Adam Sandler kinda way where he praises Styx (in Big Daddy) and he’s partly responsible for not letting rest some pretty atrocious music from the past... In your case, it’s funny as shit that your “hot new single” sounds frighteningly like Depeche Mode.
The funny thing about “The Bad Touch” is that I wrote it when I was about 15. It was about the time Music for the Masses came out. I did the song on this old sequencer/synthesizer -- an old-school one-piece -- and I just took a tape recorder and taped the song. So when we were short on songs for this record, I dug up some old tapes and found the song. Note for note, we rerecorded the song, hence it sounds like Depeche Mode.
And you have the audacity to steal from Frankie Goes to Hollywood and fuckin’ “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco!
Oh yeah, gotta give Falco props.
Last record you did a duet with Vanilla Ice...
Yeah, he crosses all boundaries... Even people in Finland think he’s funny.
So even Metallica, who’s whining and moaning about Napster, was cool about you using their song?
Yeah, most everyone’s been cool about our sampling. The thing we like is that at some point, Metallica had to listen to Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Frankie Goes to Hollywood had to listen to Metallica. And what’s even funnier is that that song, “Mope,” was just remixed by the Pet Shop Boys. So to hear the Pet Shop Boys playing with a Metallica sample just takes it to another level...
Bloodhound Gang began as a more rap-heavy band, but it seems your commercial success has been more for the guitar-oriented songs with a pretty dry vocal delivery...
When we integrated guitars, we became more accessible, but when we took guitars and sampling and did half rap and half melodies, that seems to be the combination that worked best for us. The first record was heavy on the samples with a few songs with guitars, and the second had more guitar songs, and this one is more equal, more balanced between the two. We fight about this stuff all the time. I’m really into dance music -- whether it be Depeche Mode or German trance music -- and Lüpüs Thünder, our guitarist, is really into metal, so mixing it up just made sense.
There seems to be kind of a lot of time between your records...
Ya know, I think Deftones and Duran Duran follow the same plan as us... Well, not Duran Duran anymore, but in the old days, they’d put out an album every three years. And same thing with the Deftones, they take their time. Bands like Reel Big Fish can crank out a record, but there’s really nothing there to sink my teeth into. And we’re heavy into touring and always have been. Even in the early days when no one but you guys would review our record, we did a month-long tour in a van, and we made $5 a day to eat... But it got the word out. Now we have to tour extensively in places like Russia. We’ve done two tours of Russia in the last year. The first tour of Europe we ever did was five days long. Now we can’t do it in less than three-and-a-half months. We’re on our fifth tour of Europe in the last year-and-a-half, it’s just the way it is.
I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that they get all the deep American junk culture references.
Most countries in Europe are so completely Americanized. And those that aren’t are influenced by Germany, which is heavily American influenced. So Poland is influenced by Germany and America, so it’s kinda weird... Put it this way, the number one TV show in most countries is The Simpsons. Some of them don’t have the money to do overdubs... But in Germany, they have Ve Simpsons. And they have people who’re famous in Germany do the voice-overs. Most of it isn’t as good as the American version, but Apu sounds hilarious... Hearing an Indian with a German accent? There’s just something very funny about that. In Red Square, not surprisingly, there’s Lenin, and 20 feet away is a McDonald’s. In Toulouse, France, in their town square, everything that’s not brick or stone is gold or gold-plated. They have guards walking around to make sure no one steals the doorknobs... So in this beautiful square down by the water with all these old world cafés and stuff, there’s a McDonald’s, completely done out in gold. Literally, the Golden Arches!
Do you ever write odd details into your songs that arrogant Americans think are about them, but are really based on some place else?
Sure. There are nuances that I find funny about all sorts of places... In about 1985 in the U.K., the government made these public service commercials to raise awareness and try to get people to have more respect for retarded people. They got this guy named Joey Deacon who was retarded and couldn’t talk very well, and they put him and his best friend on TV. They were like 35, but they were totally retarded, ya know? So Joey’d say, “Ha eb-odd, I wun eb-bod ha Ma Crimut,” and his friend’d say, “Joey wants you all to know that he wants you to have a Merry Christmas.” So within about a month, this was the coolest thing with high school kids -- they wouldn’t call you a fuckin’ retard, they’d call you a Joey Deacon. So there’s this whole Joey Deacon culture, even though the commercials haven’t been on the air for a long time. When kids pick teams and play games, they don’t go “Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe,” they go “Joe-A, Joe-B, Joe-C, Joe-E... A-con, B-con, C-con, D-con.” I thought that was wild! So we just did MTV UK a few days ago, shot a couple songs for them to air, and they wanted me to take all the dirty words out... So instead of bleeping them out or just not saying them, I said Joey Deacon instead. So someone in Belgium or Oklahoma isn’t going to get it, but if I can introduce the rest of the world to all these cultural idiosyncrasies...
You used to write stuff for PopSmear before it folded, right?
Yeah, I kinda liked writing articles for them, and I wrote our bio, even though I tried to make it look like most of it wasn’t written by me. I put a list of pretty much every band we’ve ever played with in there, and it’s funny because almost every journalist I talk to finds someone in there they either love or hate, and it takes the conversation somewhere interesting...
Are you writing for anyone now?
Yeah, I just did an article for Homosex about these big pimples I have on my ass that I can’t get rid of. So when we were in Iceland, they told me to go to the hot springs they have. The water’s heated by volcanos, so it’s fuckin’ cold out, but there’re these hot springs... People spend their life-savings to go to these things to try and cure whatever ails ’em, and here I am trying to clear up the pimples on my ass... Maybe that’s not that interesting and I should shut up now...
Did it work?
How’d you end up writing for Homosex?
Well, in the U.K., everyone always gets on our case for being homophobic. For whatever reason... And the biggest gay magazine, Boys, did an interview with me, and I realized the guy interviewing me was kind of a kindred spirit. He said he had another magazine called Homosex, so I checked it out. It’s filled with big, hard, throbbing cocks, and each issue he goes out and reviews a male prostitute... So I’m like, “What a great magazine.” So now he’s printing articles I write, some of which were for PopSmear.
I always thought you oughtta write for Lollipop...
Yeah, I love Lollipop and I like writing articles because they don’t have to rhyme...
It’s always kinda bugged me that more lyricists and musicians can’t write for shit... They see cool stuff and have all these crazy experiences, but the majority of ’em can’t write to save their lives...
Basically, all you have to do is do something a little different. Whether you’re a band or a writer or whatever, you just have to do whatever you do differently, and you’ve created your niche. Wherever it comes from and whatever it entails, that’s really all you have to do. We’re really lucky because there’s not a lot of competition, probably because most people don’t want to have anything to do with it...
Speaking of which, tell me about “Mama’s Boy,” the quick conversation you recorded with your mom when trying to find words to rhyme with vagina...
I scripted what I was going to say, but she had no idea I was taping it. Eminem’s mom sued him for 10 million, and my mom said, “I’m going to talk to Daddy about this.” And I’m like, “Great Mom, you’re going to get Dad to represent you...” But my dad told her to can it.
Last time I interviewed you, you were at your parents house and your mom was giving the dog a bath. It was very homey...
That’s kind of funny because the dog ran away. My mom let him out one night to piss and he never came back.
And that’s funny?
Well, then my brother and I convinced her it was her fault, and she cried every time we brought the dog up.
...And that’s funny?
And then I went on a world tour, and every few weeks or so I’d send her a postcard from wherever I was, but I write it from the perspective of Elmer, the dog. Every time she got one, she’d cry, and I’d say, “Why are you telling me this? I didn’t send them...” I don’t think she believed me.
Tell me the story behind “The Ballad of Chasey Lain.”
I saw a clothing ad she did, and I thought she was kinda cute. And someone said she was a porn star, so I thought it’d be fun to write a song about her. It turns out she shaves herself when she does pornos, and she hadn’t done one in 12 months because she was pregnant, so when I met her, she looked like Grape Ape. So, um, it wasn’t really the experience I was hoping for...
But you got her to record the reply, “R.S.V.P.”...
She did that before she heard the song. After she heard it, she wanted nothing to do with us.
I’m starting to see a theme here...
She also said she’d be in our video, but she never showed up. I guess that showed us...
Speaking of videos, what was it like in those monkey suits in “The Bad Touch”?
They were hot. We shot the video in Paris, and the only reason we did it there was because there was a girl I liked, and I thought this’d impress her. She’s in the video, one of the girls who gets blow-darted in the butt. But when she came to the shoot, she brought her boyfriend, which kinda defeated my whole purpose.
No matter how far you get in life, some girl can come along and make you feel like a loser dork... What is this, high school?
As far as I can tell, yes it is.
So the monkey suits?
Well, the song’s about mammals, so we got the cheapest monkey suits ever made. The original video was a bit longer, and that version’s coming out on our home video. We eat our own shit, and all sorts of fun stuff.
You have other home videos as well, right?
We have One Fierce Beer Run for the last record coming out in a couple months, and Hooray for Groupies for this one in about a year. Anything we can’t put on it, we’re putting on an outtakes tape people can get. That’s where all the sex and raunchy shit’ll be.
Thank God for webpages, huh?
Gotta love it! Go eBay! Actually, it’s funny because our road crew has a tendency to sell our props and stuff on eBay when they wear out.
That’s how they get ya back for having to lug your shit around all the time.
Yeah, “Hey, here’s a picture of Jim taking a dump: $50.” I heard a half-eaten piece of French toast left by Justin of N’Sync went for $800.
Don’t you hang out with those guys?
Yeah, they came to see us and we put them in our show. Our celebrity friends are few and far between, but those we have are a good assortment: Queens of the Stoned Age, N’Sync, and Nerf Herder. A couple weeks ago, we finished a show in San Francisco and we wanted to see N’Sync’s show because they were nice enough to come and see ours... So we had a couple days off before a show in Virginia Beach before leaving for Europe, so we flew to Tampa to see them play. We hung out with them all night and had a great time. We’re such opposite ends of the spectrum... We like the pop star aspect they have, and I think they just like that we’re bad and bring drugs to do. They’re genuinely nice people -- and very clean cut -- but they’re a lot of fun to hang out with. While they’re the biggest band in the world as far as record sales go, there’s zero ego... It’s amazing. While a lot of people over the age of 14 probably couldn’t tell you the difference, the N’Sync guys are nothing like the Backstreet Boys... Those guys always come across as (husky whisper) “We’re the Backstreet Boys,” but N’Sync are just great guys.
Any crazy N’Sync stories?
Most of the time they don’t really do anything you wouldn’t expect of them, it’s US that causes all the trouble. Lemme see... Well, there was this time we were hanging out and Brittany [Spears] was there...
Brittany? So you’re on a first-name basis with her?
Yeah, my good buddy Brittany, and Joey... Donny & Marie... Ya know how whenever Billy Crystal talks about famous people, he changes their first names? So I’m hangin’ with Jackie Nicholson, and Tommy Hanks comes over and tells me this great story about Mart Lawrence... He’s saying that John Carson, when he used run with Eddie McMahon, had Franny Sinatra over...
I was wondering how long you could keep that going...
I’m still trying to think of a good N’Sync story... Well, the last time we saw them, we went into the V.I.P. room with glass walls, and all the people in the club are staring in like an aquarium... It was us, Brittany, some of the Backstreet Boys, and N’Sync just hanging out in this little room... And I was getting [N’Sync’s] Joey’s sister drunk off her ass... We were drinking Jack straight out of the bottle. She’s a loudmouthed girl from Brooklyn with a mouth like a truck driver, and there was just something funny about her brother sitting there all calmly as she’s yelling (tawkin’ traaash in a Brouklyn accent), “Hey Joey, shut the fuck up! I’m gonna fuck the Bloodhound Gang tonight! Bwah ha ha!”
Sounds like it’s been a good ride...
Yeah, sure beats other jobs I’ve had... I used to dress up like a carrot to work at this Halloween store. It’s not easy to pick up girls when you’re dressed like a carrot...
by Scott Hefflon