Here’s the mellow Midnite Vulture answering your questions on sex laws, The Stone Roses, Scientology and satanic coiffeurs… From Uncut’s November 2006 issue (Take 114). Interview: Tim Jonze
Plenty of people might want to kick Wayne Coyne up the butt, but not many are invited to do so by the man himself. Then again, Beck Hansen has concocted so many surreal situations for himself in the 12 years since “Loser” made him a household name, it seems only fitting that his supposed enemies should ask him to dish out the corporal punishment.
Of course, Beck is too artful an operator to do quite what anyone expects of him. Uncut joins him on his tour bus at the V Festival in Chelmsford, where he will share the stage with a band of puppets, and play material from his new album, The Information. Beck’s determination to avoid being stereotyped is a recurring theme of his excellent and varied albums, and many of his interviews have been evasive affairs, characterised by a horror of being pinned down. Today, however, faced with a wadge of questions from Uncut readers and celebrity fans (“The Beastie Boys have a question for me? Are you kidding?” he asks incredulously), he is uncharacteristically forthcoming. As the tape whirrs into action, members of Beck’s entourage gather around, curious to know what he has to say: it seems trekking across the globe with him for the past few years hasn’t sated their appetite for his idiosyncratic take on things. Especially when their unassuming boss seems so willing to talk about telepathy, that Flaming Lips ruckus, and robbing McDonald’s with a machine gun…
How does it feel in the exclusive club of people instantly recognised by only their Christian names – you, Elvis, Madonna, Dido and Prince?
Steve Rodham, Cheshire
It’s an exclusive lounge. But a lot of people I meet think I’m the lead singer in some group! I always get, “Hey! You’re that guy out of Beck!” So I might be disqualified on those grounds.
Which bands best define New York for you?
Mary Butler, Eastbourne
The Velvet Underground, the New York Dolls, Blondie, the Ramones and Frank Sinatra, though he’s from New Jersey. I’m interested in Sinatra. I grew up with him so he’s one of those artists I took for granted. When you think about The Rat Pack’s impact, it’s pretty amazing. It was total hysteria, like with The Beatles or something but from a pre-rock’n’roll era.
Hey, Beck – did you really get your hair cut by the devil?
I went down to this strip mall called “the Crossroads” where they have a Fedex, an ice-cream parlour and a barbershop. At the barbershop they had illustrations of various haircuts with names like the Dirty Pompeii, the Black Bear, the Lonely Mannequin, the Brass Eskimo. An old man came out with some rusty scissors and blades. He put me in the chair and swung me around. I said how much. He said we’d work that out later and asked what I’d like, so I said the first one. He said, nobody asks for that one any more. I was worried he’d be out of practice. But he knew what he was doing. He cut my hair so fast I could hardly see his hands. When he was done, he stood back. It looked like some kind of bowl cut with long bangs. I said it wasn’t really my style. He said I’d grow to like it, just give it time, it could do a lot of things for me. When it came to the matter of paying he said, I’ll take a portion of your soul which you won’t have to pay ’til the 12 August moon, by the city gates with a boar’s tooth and a sword of Damocles. I said I had no idea what he was talking about, I had a line of credit at First National but knew nothing of boar’s teeth or swords. I left him a bank note and walked out the door. As I got into my Lincoln someone yelled “Hey Devo!” from a passing car. I never went back there. I don’t know who that old man was or what he was talking about. Now I try to avoid strip malls.