JEORDIE WHITE | BASE TENDENCIES
Membership in the Aging Alternative Rockers' Club probably comes with little more than a sense of self-satisfaction and a large black book chock full with phone numbers of former tour mates and club owners. Oh, and a secret handshake. They've gotta have one of those, or another Stonecutters-esque type way of telling who's in. Otherwise how is someone like Twiggy Ramirez to know that Jonny Greenwood made the cut, but that Thom Yorke's membership renewal form was "lost in the mail."
Speaking with the former Manson member gone oddball rock solo artist and Nine Inch Nials touring bassist, I asked Jeordie White (Twiggy's real name) how it felt to be a veritable Dave Grohl (in terms of memberships and musical output). I mean, after parting ways with Marilyn's band he tried out for Queens of the Stone Age and ended up playing on Desert Sessions 9&10 before joining A Perfect Circle. [Editor's Note - Have one of the Aural Minority interns check the sequence of those events]. Yet somewhere between becoming one of rock's most revered back up dudes, White and friends Zach Hill of Hella and Chris Goss from Masters of Reality cooked up Goon Moon, a musical melange as goofy, grotesque and atmospheric as its name suggests.
So I ask him, in not as many words: Is there anything you won't do or want to do or any other rock supergroup you could see yourself joining?
"I wouldn't join to many bands. It would just have to be something on my own thing or perhaps if it was something ridiculous like Paul McCartney or the Spice Girls or just something silly," White replied, honestly contemplating the possibilities. "Maybe possibly Oasis becuase they're fun to hang with and they're old 90's farts like myself."
Now, I've never been a fan of either of the Gallagher brothers and the randomness of White's admission sort of stunned me. You mean to say, I asked, that you all interact on personal levels as actual human beings?
"Yeah, you find yourself in bathrooms and clubs with these people for some reason," he laughed.
Modest and more than accommodating throughout the interview, White explained that the personal connections made during the last 15 years are really what led him to be in as many bands as he is now.
"With Nine Inch Nails I don't know how it happened. I think it more has to do with the friends, the people who I'm friends with and the friends that I've kept just being in the business," White reflected. "It's not necessarily based on 'I'm a good bass player' or guitar player or whatever. I guess I'm good enough, but it's more, hmmmm. When you're in a band with someone, you have to live with them for a long time. So, there's that. I think it more has to do with that. Basically it's who you know and I kind of didn't want to tour anymore, but I guess I just fell back into it."
Perhaps one thing just led to another or maybe Jeordie White is too nice not to take a job offer when Billy Howerdel calls him and James Iha up to fill out his band. Either way, for as busy as he is, White came across as lackadaisical about his involvement in things as huge as a nationwide Nine Inch Nails tour. Maybe that was just because he was in traffic and talking on his cell phone to another annoying interviewer, but there was a certain zen sort of acceptance in his laid back attitude about things. In terms of A Perfect Circle he explained that "if" and "when" it comes down to it, when Maynard and Howerdel are ready, he'll have to decide whether to participate at that point, as it's all up in the air right now.
"As far as time goes, I've got a pretty full plate and there's a lot I want to do," White asserted.
Including everything from Nine Inch Nails shows, Goon Moon touring, more recording, other projects and general shenanigans with Hill and Goss, White plans to make every moment a productive one. With so much in the works, it seemed odd that he had previously said he didn't want to tour anymore.
"I guess I do, I just pretend that I don't," White admitted. "I like it. you've got to keep busy to keep sane."
Well, if the rigors of laying bass lines for NIN and APC have kept him sane in the past year, then free time must surely account for the sound of Goon Moon. Off-the-wall and across-the-map, Goon Moon has been described as "a startling bitch's brew of outsider prog experimentalism and thrown back and twisted stoner jams in the tradition of no one." by the band's supporting label, Suicide Squeeze Records.
"Yeah, I would call it that. But its also kind of like, not sonically and song writing wise, but it's kind of like the first McCartney record and John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band just because on the two of those albums it sounds like the songs aren't finished," White explained. "It's just like they just gave up in the middle of writing those sons and just put them out as how they were. It was kind of almost like unfinished music that we released. At least, from my perspective. It's kind of the outtakes of the record that will come out eventually."
At points on I Got A Brand New Egg Layin' Machine, Goon Moon are a jam band. But not in the modern day sense of the word, more of a "70's jazz rock fusion weird shit," as White put it. Having worked with Goss for years now, White said that the two of them have a whole catalong of music written and that none of it ended up on this album. Since Egg Layin' Machine consists of outtakes of what they wanted to release, it's easy to understnd where Goon Moon got their free flowing' vibe from. A majority of the album comes across as glorified rehearsals with static, noise, feedback and odd ramblings dubbed over -- which really is the beauty of it.
"I think Goon Moon, just being able to do this will open the gates of many more records to come out. Just confidence-wise, just seeing something good like that and having it released. I think there's going to be a lot more where that came from," White forecasted. "It was the intention to be different. It's like -- a lot of the music on the Goon Moon record was literally just recorded right on the spot. We set up and played and that's just kind of how it came out. There were no intentions behind it all and there really wasn't much thought put into it, and I'm sure it shows in the recording. BUt it's kind of nice to hear something, I think, that's really jammy and doesn't have much thought put into it. But then again, I don't know what I'm saying. The thing about Goon Moon is that we have a lot of fun making the records and so there's no intentions behind it. It's just basically for us. It'a a little selfish experiment, but I think a lot of good music is going to come out of it and I think we're going to spend a lot o fmoney on cheese and olives and wine when we go in to record the music."
There were so many wasted hours at college. So many nights when I'd sit around the dorm with friends and we'd break things or bang on an acoustic guitar and shout nonsensical songs with choruses like "Your sister called." Improv poetry, random acts of art, distrupting the dining halls...It was all purely for the fun. There were no intentions behind it and hardly ever any thought put into it. It was just spastic creative outbursts. And while Goon Moon's debut isn't intentionally an homage to those idiotic events in my life, it works well as a sort of soundtrack for reflecting on them. For god's sake, the only lyrics to the one track are "mashed potatoes and cream." Endearing in its inanities, Goon Moon is refreshing and I think that's the point.
"I'm a fan of music. I pay attention to what's going on. I tend to kind of search for things that I like instead of being spoonfed the stuff that is on MTV or whatever other station plays music. As well as I'm sure that A Perfect Circle is being spoonfed to people just like My Chemical Romance is or whatever is on," White said. "I like a lot of new music that is coming out, but with a lot of it, I can't tell if it came out now or if it came out 25 years ago becuase it's all, it just doesn't seem new. I think there is a lot of great music out now and it's a lot better than it was a few years ago, but with that being said, there's also nothing new. No one's really challenging anything anymore. Other than me, of course."
For the record, that last bit was said in a burst of bravado with a bit of a laugh tacked at the end. That sort of "Well, even if this is true, I'm still going to be a dork and point it out and poke fun at myself."