What Are You Listening To?
"I'd probably play Daft Punk at my own funeral…"
What are you listening to right now?
I'm listening to the song "Phoenix" off of Daft Punk's Homework.
Listen: Daft Punk – "Phoenix"
When did you first start getting into Daft Punk?
It was back in 1997. And it was new, because it wasn't quite house or hip-hop. I didn't know it then, but Daft Punk has always been one of those bands like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones where you can't necessarily classify it by a single genre. Their name itself becomes the genre. They have their own sound.
Have you ever seen them live?
No, unfortunately not. But I lived in London twice, and Daft Punk is huge over there, so a lot of their music reminds me of specific friends and times there. Back in 2003, a friend of mine was in film school, and she asked me to be in a music video she was making for the song "Voyager," so I'll always remember that moment along with the song.
Is there a Daft Punk song for all of life's moments?
Maybe not a funeral [laughs]. Actually, I take that back. I'd probably play Daft Punk at my own funeral. One of my favorite Daft Punk songs is "Make Love," and it sounds completely different from a lot of their other stuff, so that might work. It'd also be funny to imagine one of my other favorite songs of theirs playing, "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." When I do get the will up to work out or need to focus on something, that's a go-to song for me. It just goes along with the way I think.
Was there any music that came out this year that you were either thrilled or disappointed by?
The thing is, in this Internet age, it's easy to find the music you like and avoid everything else. And I've always had eclectic tastes, so I'm never really sitting on an entire album. If anything, I'd say I was really disappointed by Lil Wayne's performance at Bonnaroo this year. He was completely drunk on stage and unprofessional. They had to turn down the volume on him because he wasn't making any sense.
What's your song of the summer?
I recently discovered Pretty Lights. There's this song called "Fill Your Eyes." I'll definitely remember this summer when I hear that song. I was at my friend Ed's house before we headed out to Bonnaroo this year, and we had a fifteen-hour car ride ahead of us, and during my turn driving I'd put that song on repeat. It's just one of those driving-on-the-highway kind of jams that puts you in the zone.
Listen: Pretty Lights – "Fill Your Eyes"
Who are some other artists you'd recommend?
I'd definitely recommend Blur. I know they've been around for awhile, but they have a lot of songs that are good. One of my favorites is the song "Coffee And TV." I think that song is very underrated. Hole is another band that's not around any more — they were more popular in the '90s — but I feel like twenty years from now their stuff will sound as good as when it came out. I've also always been a really big fan of Mos Def's stuff.
What's a song on your iPod that you're embarrassed gets a lot of playtime?
[laughs] Recently it's "California Girls" by Katy Perry. You can laugh all you want, but that's another song for the summer. I've also been a huge Kylie Minogue fan, too. They played her a lot when I was in England and when I was in Australia.
Okay, help me out here. What are Katy Perry's redeeming qualities?
Besides her breasts? [laughs] She seems like a very friendly lady, just enjoying her time. And what's funny is that with songs like "Teenage Dream" and "California Gurls," I have a shit ton of guy friends who are also embarrassed to admit, "Yeah, this song is pretty good."
I'm imagining a Tommy Boy situation where you're all at a party and the song "Teenage Dream" comes on, and you all look at each other and say, "I'm fine with it if you are."
Exactly. [laughs] We all admit to each other, "This shit is kinda the shit." She knows how to jam. I wouldn't put her down as one of the all-time best artists, but I definitely wouldn't change the radio station if her music came on.
Who would quit everything in your life to be a groupie for?
Wow, that's a good question.
And I must inform you that "groupie" entails both carrying amps and all things sexual.
I would be a groupie for Regina Spektor. I'd look forward to our spooning sessions. She'd be big spoon.
What are you listening to right now?
K-pop, which is Korean pop music. I'm listening to a song called "Anyclub" by a girl named Lee Hyori.
Listen: Lee Hyori – "Anyclub"
Is she a favorite artist of yours?
At one point she was a favorite, but not so much anymore. I guess I kind of changed one day, and started listening to everything else. Stuff like Lady Gaga.
What's an album that came out this year that you were really excited about?
Adele's 21. I love her voice. That song "Rolling in the Deep" was playing everywhere and it got stuck in my head. So I figured I had to have it and actually went out and bought the album.
You downloaded it first?
[looking ashamed] Yes, I illegally downloaded it first. But then I was like, "I have to pay money for this album. I have to do it." So I'm proud to say that I actually bought the album in the store.
You seemed to show a little remorse when you said you downloaded it. Is that something you feel bad about doing?
The way I look at it is that it's like going to a cupcake store and sampling things. If you really like it, you'll buy it, and if you really like it you'll come back and invest more money into it.
Five years from now, what will be the song that brings you back to this summer?
That's a good question. I don't really know about this summer, but I can tell you about past summers. "Hey Soul Sister" by Train was my summer song last year. And some Ke$ha songs, probably, like "Your Love Is My Drug." That song was everywhere when it came out. I'd go on the train to Flushing, I'd go to Jersey, and I'd hear it everywhere. You couldn't get away from it.
If you met someone randomly in the park and got to talking to them about music, who's an artist you'd be excited that they were into?
Phoenix. My favorite song by them is "Fences."
Listen: Phoenix – "Fences"
Have you ever seen Phoenix in concert?
No, I tried once and ended up going to see Owl City instead. It just didn't happen while I was around in New York.
What are you listening to right now?
"Sugaree," off the Jerry Garcia solo album. I believe it's from the early '70s.
Listen: Jerry Garcia – "Sugaree"
I see that you're also wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt. Are you a Deadhead?
The Grateful Dead has been a major part of my life, but that's not the only music I like.
Did you ever follow them around on tour?
I saw The Grateful Dead over ninety-five times before Jerry Garcia died. My first show was Madison Square Garden, September 18th, 1981.
Are there any other bands that even come close to The Grateful Dead?
I play the drums, so I like a lot of different things. For me, the Dead are just at the top, right? But Keith Moon is my drumming hero, so I love the old Who. I love Mitch Mitchell, so The Jimi Hendrix Experience is great. I love Ginger Baker, so I love Cream. But I also grew up here in New York in the late '70s and early '80s, so I'm a big fan of The Ramones, Television, Talking Heads, and all the So-Cal music like Social Distortion and Agent Orange. That's what people would call the "original punk," but if you listen to it now it doesn't even sound like punk.
Were you a part of the CBGB scene growing up?
I was a Deadhead when everyone was punk. I grew up in the city when that neighborhood was just burnt out, so our rebellion was not to be punks, but to be hippies. That was total rebellion in 1981.
Is there any music that you're embarrassed to admit you like?
I don't have anything specifically on my iPod like that, but I love old disco from the '70s, because when I was thirteen-years old, it was hot.
Did you go to the discoteque?
I went to Studio 54 when I was between fifteen and seventeen years old, actually. It was awesome, man. I don't remember much [laughs], but we used to get dressed up and hang out with all these rich kids, so we'd be able to get in. I saw a lot of famous people back then. I saw Warhol, Truman Capote. I saw Madonna. And just seeing them before they were a big deal — well, Warhol and Capote were a big deal by that point — but Madonna hadn't even had "Borderline" yet. I remember seeing "Lucky Star" on MTV later and being like, "Oh man, that chick! We saw her at Studio 54!"
Did she command the dance floor with her Madonna presence?
I think it was a lip sync thing that she had done. All I remember is that every Friday they'd bring a screen down, like a big movie screen, and they'd play the video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller." That was a big deal. People were a lot freer back then, that generation, until AIDS came along and really freaked everyone out.
Are there any types of music that if you were on a date with someone and they brought it up as a favorite you'd be turned off?
Never. I'm really open to stuff.
What about rap? You've only mentioned rock so far. What if you went on a date with someone and they said that Lil Wayne was their favorite artist?
The chances of that happening are probably very slim [laughs]. Just being honest with you. But I like old-school rap. I watched it happen here in New York, back when it was real. Back when they talked about real things, the street, about people making it, about dying and drugs. I saw Afrika Bambaataa play in this area back in the '80s and that was really cool. I remember that song "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash. I listened to that then, you know, and I thought it was great. But the new stuff, I honestly don't really get it. I just don't get it.
Listen: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – "The Message"