Sept 27, 1999 - 8 hours by train to Hamburg
I'm finished with Paris now, anyway. I still love France, but Paris is like the New York City of France. And we all know how I feel about New York City. (glamourous, but big, expensive, and ScARY!)
I'm writing from a nearly empty train, across from poor sleeping Rick. I wonder how he is handling the loss of his stuff, internally. Two days ago when it happened, he was fine, and he was consoling JC, who feels responsible for the mess. Rick is not into material objects. Then yesterday, he seemed a bit off color. At one point to me he remarked sadly, "I have lost all of my stuff." It was kind of weird to hear him say something like that, because he is the closest western equivalent to a Buddhist monk that I know of. He really doesn't care about STUFF. So I replied to him, "Well, we'll go to the store and buy you more Stuff."
So I'm reading this Buddhist book, and the Dalai-Lama teaches that we are not supposed to sit and replay this incident over and over in our minds; we are supposed to forget about it. We are also supposed to embrace the thief as our teacher and this loss as a lesson. I guess these ideas console me a bit. It's hard to do, but it's obviously correct; replaying the incident only hurts our own insides. And we have learned one hell of a lesson. And, it's only Stuff.
For the last 4 hours we sit in a little 6-chair compartment with a well-manicured German man who is not supposed to be in our car. If he had sat where he was supposed to sit, we would have had the whole little compartment to ourselves. But he was there, so we both sat and finished our books. He spoke to Rick once while I was gone, to inform him that each time the German woman had come into the car barking something we couldn't understand (we showed her our tickets each time) - she had really only been asking if there was anyone new in the car. How embarrassing.
I spoke to the man when the ride was almost over, because I was afraid to speak to him sooner; I didn't want to be one of those rude, gabby Americans. He had a quiet and happy voice, totally unexpected for someone with whom we'd just spent 4 hours in mutual ignoration. He told us he was going home to a city very far north, on the border of the water nearest the ferries to Denmark. This route from Paris to Hamburg goes a lot more NORTH than I had expected!
Wow! Back-to-back interviews when we arrive in Hamburg. Gundula, a City-Slang employee picks us up at the train station and we go straight to our hotel on the Reeperbahn which is another Sex-Shop street, but for some reason it looks a bit more wholesome and touristy than the scary Paris Sex-shop street that houses the hotel we stay in.
Interviewers in Europe are hilarious. They will ask such straightforward questions, like "How come your first album sucked and your 2nd one is much better?" but they are so polite before and after the interview. Apparently it's standard practice to keep interviewers waiting for your own comfort, and to not want to do lots of interviews, but so far that all doesn't really make a lot of sense to us. Although after the 8-hour train ride, we rushed to the hotel as quickly as possible and arrived 5 minutes late for the first interviewer and he had already left. I don't know what to make of that. (He came back later though.)
Sept 29,30 1999 - 4 hours by by car to Potsdam and then back to Berlin
Wow, back to back interviews for me and Rick for the next 2 days; Mostly phone interviews to Italy, Spain, Austria and other places in Germany. It's something like 10 interviews per day. I feel sorry for Jim and Howie, because I think they should get to do interviews also - I hope they get more of a chance next tour.
It still seems like a lot of fun to talk to each of these interviewers; you never know what to expect. With each one, it's a new challenge. The challenge is to try to make them understand you - although with a couple of Italian ones, the challenge was also to understand them too.... And mostly, the challenge is to give them a good interview; to give them good answers. I still find it so flattering to be written about.
And I guess that's not the way most musicians find interviews... mostly musicians seem to dislike interviews. Maybe after we do a couple-hundred, we'll get bored, too. But for right now, we like it and find it a challenge to give a good interview.
At dinner tonight, the Germans from City Slang seem fascinated with American culture, the part about the Guns. Europeans, for some reason, don't find it necessary to own these objects of death. They are horrified at the idea that you could just walk into a store on any street and buy a gun.
Europeans seem to value human lives in a way that we don't, for some reason. Maybe it's the TV violence. Or shit, maybe they've all got the 10 Commandments posted up somewhere.(In America, to combat all the school-children shooting each other, the religious right, who really has no business being in politics, decided to make it a law to post the 10 Commandments up on the school walls.) I'd like Jerry Falwell to explain to me why there are less shootings in Europe, and more sex and less censorship on their TV.
In America, the religious right believes that viewing any kind of ludeness on TV causes a complete breakdown of morals and Family Values. Hell, then, just viewing the un-censored Sex Scenes in "Eyes Wide Shut" ought to cause millions of European Stanley Kubrick fans to go out shooting each other. That just doesn't seem to happen in Europe. Gosh, Why not?
Sept 30, 1999 - A Post Rock Sponsorship
So the newest challenge is to answer the PostRock question. "Do you think you're PostRock?"
I have to explain this for Americans, because in the States, we don't have a label for this kind of music yet; we just call ourselves "electronic." So for all you Americans reading this, Postrock is apparently the way the European and British press have defined music that doesn't have vocals, but is still liked by people who like Rock. This includes Tortoise, who is more of a light-jazz band, and Trans Am, who are more on the side of metal. And the question is, does it include us? Trans Am and Tortoise being classified together is like classifying an orange and a(n american) football together because they both have rough skin. Even though it's true, the classification doesn't really help you when you're playing football or looking for a fruit snack. And these are the purposes of the football and the orange.
Anyway, for some reason, it's really important to not be called Postrock. Probably because once you're categorized as a certain label, then you can't escape it. Your music isn't your music anymore; it's a label that people can destroy. It's like being forced to accept a sponsorship from some company, and not even getting any money for it. Why don't we want an RJ Reynolds sponsorship or a Domino's Pizza Sponsorship? Because we don't want our music, the thing that we create, to be associated with those names. Why don't we want a PostRock sponsorship? Same reason.