La Isla Majorca at the edges of the pandemic, churches, cloisters, little village squares, and Spanish novel titled, No Voy A Salir De Aqui.
Yeah the book was an interesting one, it didn’t sell all that well though. It got around most Spanish speaking countries in the world and so that was pretty rad you know?
Since we are at it, when we connected earlier you mentioned Charles Bukowski.
Yeah fucking Bukowski! (laughs) He was an amazing writer who had some amazing things to say, but I don’t think Bukowski was mentally healthy for me to find at a younger age, because it’s all about destitution and being happy with destitution. It’s all about drinking booze and being a fucking piece of shit to women, and when you’re a teenager and you read this you feel like other people are doing it, so yeah I’ll cuss all the time, and start writing poetry and drink all the time. So I followed Bukowski down the rabbit hole for a little while, I barely read him now but I have all of his books, an insane Bukowski collection. But yeah, good writer man! Hell of a good writer!
I haven’t read him and since high school, I stayed away from him. I was checking you out from the first day. You have ink on your neck, and the way you clench your ciggie when you sing.There is a word that I detest in British language and it’s ‘cheeky’. And I’m looking at you and it’s like: he’s a young cheeky William Burroughs! I don’t know if Burroughs is in anyway part of your mythology?
I thought Junkie was amazing. I tried to read The Naked Lunch, I couldn’t grasp it at all, but trying to read him a little more as older, the psychedelicness and drug use, that I could wrap my mind around, but the cigarette man! I’ve been smoking cigarettes since I was too, too young. I’ve been smoking cigarettes for almost 30 years now which is crazy, but the neck tattoos and all the stuff, you know, life has been interesting since before the Covid thing, and we are in the Plague, or wherever the fuck we are now, so the neck tattoo it’s really important because I’m a native American. I’m a Chickasaw, we are from Mississippi. Of course the fucking US government kicked us out, and now we’re stuck in Oklahoma. We came from a place called Mountville, our ancient people from fucking 10,000 years ago. On a wall we found these, (shows his neck ink) we don’t really know what it means, but it has something to do with the afterlife. And this was found on the walls of Mountville as well, (shows his shoulders), has been around since the time the fucking Spanish showed up to meet us. So half of me is the people that destroyed me, and half of me is the people that got destroyed. You have a European and the people that got fucking destroyed. So yeah, I don’t know what’s the question I’m fucking answering but…
Eight years ago my best friend, Lorna Tucker got me to do the cinematography on her documentary Ama, about Native American women who had been forcibly, sterilised, and had their uterus removed without their consent. I got to meet these amazing Native American women who told us what happened to them.
In Canada they found the bodies of 215 Native Americans that they murdered and buried, it was a big thing. It happened to my family as well! Kids! You didn’t like natives? So what you did, you stole Native American kids, you made them white, you cut their hair, they couldn’t sing their songs, they couldn’t speak their language. It’s fascinating, they didn’t beat it out of us! But there were elders that had come to the point that it was more important to keep it a secret from communities, and wait for a safe time to maybe let those things out. So there was a very long time that the songs weren’t sang and the stories weren’t told and things just got lost in the vapours of fucking time. And then people like my brother, heard that if there is less than a certain amount of people speaking a language, then it’s considered a dead language and it’s worthless, fucking worthless. So he became a fluent speaker and spoke with the elders. He wrote a modern Chickasaw dictionary and he’s done some amazing things. It’s beautiful to think about all those years the people had to keep the secret, because you were going to get your guts cut out, they’re going to steal you and put you on a piece of land that nobody wants, and they’re going to stab you to death. It’s amazing now, I feel that I’m living in a time when certain things are happening and those big things that need to happen may never happen, but it’s good that the language is coming back!
Yesterday when you performed in a church, you said that you are scared for the future. You see all the little shops shutting down and they’re not gonna be able to bounce back, and lots of livelihoods are being lost.
Yeah man, I said the plague is here and people are dying. You see all these lockdowns and especially in Texas we are barely getting any help from the government. Nobody could work, nobody could go out, it’s going to be fucking wild to watch the the financial fallout. But the next thing that scared me the most is the thought of the women who are stuck in horribly violent abusive relationships and they’re waiting for the moment when Hey! My fucking husband or boyfriend is going to leave to work for a certain amount of time and I will be safe! And what fucking happens when the guy can’t go to work anymore? And he’s always in the house, fucking pissed with the government who’s turning us socialist? I mean the plague is bad, but what’s happening to that poor lady? Sometimes I think I speak above very negative things… Sadness, betrayal and all the dark stuff.
To me you sing about the romance of these aspects of life. You sing about the narrative implications of these sad events, but in your music there is always a romance or a sweetness. I feel that especially in your guitar, despite the accident that happened to your hand. Now I have to buy you on vinyl to appreciate your guitar because before I was listening to you on Spotify, and I couldn’t hear how awsome it sounded.
Used to be really good at the guitar, then I started getting into bands, and I got fucking lazy… and now for the last year and a half I’ve been trying to get back who I was. You know I studied classical guitar in University for the short time I was there? One of the songs I hit the most on the road is the song Patience, it’s about a person screaming, running out of patience, they’re getting sick and tired of life, and the guitars are loud, the drums are loud, and I’m like how fucking obvious is that? The words should be something soft, on a lower vibe, it would be more potent… The songs which are really about heavy sad shit, I tried to put against something which is a bit more delicate, and something which is a bit happier or on the lighter side, I’ll try to put it with something which is a bit on the darker side of music I suppose. But then of course I never sit down and think I wanna write a song about this, or I wanna talk about these things. It’s all this fucking happen stance that works out the way that it works. No real planning or anything like that. But I know musicians like that, they wanna sing about certain things, they wanna say certain things, they wanna play a certain type of music, so they go and they play their punk rock, they sing about how they fucking hate the government and they’re going to do it this way. I guess for me growing up on anybody from John Denver to My Bloody Valentine…
My Bloody Valentine!!!!
I fucking love My Bloody Valentine and Skinny Puppy! It’s like on one hand it was Neil Diamond, that my parents introduced me to, on the other side I had a brother which was a bit older and introduce me to other stuff. My first records were like Pretty Hate Machine, Ministry, Psalm 69! Those were the first things I was listening to, really heavy weird shit But then you put it against the sleepiness and the fucking kindness of John Denver and you end up seeing the two sides, and nothing can be further away from Skinny Puppy than John Denver. You can never escape Puppy, you need to fucking listen to Skinny Puppy!
Since we are doing this interview backwards, what’s your relationship with Manchester?
In the beginning it was amazing it was me, a band called the Earleys… Who else was around at the time? We were all in different bands, all playing together, in each other’s bands and it was like a scene, our music didn’t sound similar, but we could all have played together. I lived in Charlton, which was a real shitty, a terrible part of Manchester, but of course after I left all the fucking hipsters move then in, oh my God it’s not my fault (laughs), and it became really fucking expensive! But it was amazing to be part of it, and it was amazing to live in a part called Whalley Range, which is where Morrissey and the Smiths began. And you’re walking downtown by the Hacienda and that’s where fucking New Order, Joy Division, or the Happy Mondays used to play! So I felt like I was part of something, I was a Texan, but I was a Mancunian to these people! It was amazing and it lasted as long as it could, I got signed to Universal Publishing, got a fuck load of money, went from being homeless to having all of this cash! By the time the money was close to running out, I left Manchester, needed to go home back to Texas. Oh yeah, Manchester was fucking great man, it was so gloomy, so dark, you could still smoke inside, it felt like what I guess I considered old England to be, what England is not now in any fucking way. I felt very lucky to experience a country and how they were, in a way before modern life showed up and changed everything. You now there are still a few little motels in Texas where you can smoke inside? So sometimes I go to these little hotels, so I can lie in bed and smoke cigarettes (laughs), and feel like a fucking human being, you know? (laughs) So I’m back to Texas, and had a fucking injury on my back, had fucking back surgery and started a 12 year addiction to opioids…
Yes, at that time it was medicinal. But the first time I hurt my back and had a surgery, they started me off on codeine. And then dude, I started getting better ‘doctors’, or rather drug dealers, and these motherfuckers! It was amazing, a lot of codeine! My back was hurting, I didn’t have my accident on my arm yet! I was in Sevilla, we play some Spring Festival and we have a walk around town, we go back to where the van was. Somebody has broken into the van! They stole all of our shit, they stole all of my fucking medicines and everything.Three weeks later I’m back in Texas, and I tell my doctor – Hey, I’ve been without opioids for three weeks, what you gonna do? And he goes – Why don’t you fucking try this? And he gives me this little patch that you wear, it constantly puts drugs into your system for 72 hours, and then you change it. If you take something the size of a fucking grain of salt or even sand, dude, and you give it to an elephant it will die! It’s that strong of a fucking drug! And hey, I tell my doctor – ‘Here, I haven’t been on drugs anymore, my back still hurts, what are we going to do?’ And he goes – let’s gear up bitch! Let’s get you onto the real deal! And he put me on this drug and it was like 10 years of the worst damn addiction! To the point I I was looking at myself in the mirror saying – Dude, if you don’t get off this drug, you will die! I’m not exaggerating it was wild! It took me six months to gradually wean myself out of this medicine.
Was the car accident a major turning point?
Yeah, it was fucking crazy, it was the most violent thing I’ve ever been through in my life. The car slipped, I wasn’t wearing a fucking seatbelt, as the car was spinning, the windows were breaking. The car turned on the side, I was upside down, my shoulder blades were touching, crushed against the only window that didn’t break. It was a fucking nightmare man, they got me out, and just like a guitar cable, the nerves had been pulled, but the chords didn’t break, yet everything on the inside, all the little things connecting this finger to this brain, all those got broken. And so for a very long time this arm didn’t work at all, it was weird and then, when I started learning guitar again, my nerves were connected wrong! My mind would tell me to play a G chord, and my hand would play a C! In my mind would say go here, and my hand would do whatever the fuck it wanted to. So for a while before the show I had to apologise. But before that, I was touring with a string section and I was wearing an arm brace, and we travelled around England, France and Germany, oh, and I was acting like I was fucking Frank Sinatra for a bit! But yeah, it was really violent shit! My arm still hurts man, it will never properly heal do you know? Which is what ever it is.
Look I relate, I have a MS, so I do understand when my nerves send signals to my body that don’t match what I want to do, and even the most basic actions, like climbing those two steps, don’t make any sense anymore, but become something else.
And here I am talking about my fucking arm! MS Jesus man!!
But dude, these days your guitar was flawless, the single man act suits you tremendously. The intimacy of it, that brings you into cloisters and churches… Madonna herself can’t afford sets like these!
The priest himself invited me back to film whenever I want to! (Holds out a rosary) He gave me the fanciest rosary!
Dude, I was checking that out! It’s lush!
I usually wear two! They are like wood, I got one from an African man, and then I got another one when I was in Columbia, and you expect them to be like wood, earthy, but then yesterday he gave me this one, and I’m hey this is something new! Fucking amazing man! It’s amazing that a man of the cloth allowed me in, I had to watch my language, don’t crack too many jokes, try to be respectful of the place, but the fact of a man of God allowed me to stand basically where he stands, where God is supposed to come down from the fucking heavens and speak to humanity. Because this is what he believes, right? So this is what’s happening, and he’s letting me stand there? He’s letting me play my fucking songs? I had my own church last night?!
That song about God not liking you, and you not liking him back was epic! It made perfect sense in church!
That song is a bit tongue in cheek, I feel like that of course, there’s people who think that everything I write is autobiographical, but sometimes there are songs that I try to write from a prospective maybe I’m not in, maybe I’ve been in, maybe other people have been in. I’m trying to cover as many things as possible because there have been times when I felt completely fucking forgotten by God, I mean, I struggle with that daily, man. I’m not sure it has to be a struggle, and I’m not sure I’m struggling with Jesus Christ, or with the Holy Spirit, or whatever I’m dealing with, but the thing I learnt by getting older is, when you’re young you think they’re teaching, I’m probably getting myself in trouble with this, with whom I’m not sure but… They teach love, and they teach understanding, unity and community, and acceptance, but as I got older I feel like I was taught how to be ashamed, and I was taught how to feel like a sinner, and I was not explained. For example the first time my dad caught me with Playboy, I was in trouble! It’s a sin to look at naked ladies, I’m a young kid, that’s a fucking sin, it’s bad I shouldn’t do it! Instead of… Like with my son, because I know I’m going to fucking catch him. Why didn’t my father sit down with me and go – What do you find interesting about this? What’s going on about this? Let’s talk about it! And then say – Hey dude, you’re fucking eight years old, maybe it’s not time. this is totally right on, man! Boobs, ass, everything, But this is not the right time for your mind, and so we need to hold off, we need to wait. Actually speak to a fucking human like they are human! So there, growing up I started to feel shame, I was taught to hate the fucking gays, and I was taught hatred! Inclusivity? We have a preacher, he’s from Mississippi, he’s hard fucking core, and he’s on the pulpit, going – Fuck gays, fuck gay people, let them fucking burn in hell! – and I’m like what the fuck is this man saying?? But you know, he probably has a boyfriend, and you know, he’s probably married, and you know he probably lies to his wife, he probably lies to his kids, and that’s such a fucked up thing. I’m going to hide it from you, and now if I hide it from you, it’s going to get fucking dark, and it’s going to get fucking weird, and that’s the secret fucking world that I live in! Boom! That’s some wild, wild shit! And I can fucking stand it! Man, I’m just going on, eh? But this interview brings a lot of it back! If you read about me, all the bullshit people talk about, a lot of people haven’t connected it in interviews or in articles, they haven’t connected the religion that I was brought up in, the life that I was forced to live, or the life that I led, they see me and say – Here is the Texas God side, here he’s the drug addict side, and they don’t made a connection that those two, are the same thing! That the teachers of Christ taught me how to be a good drug addict, the teachers of the fucking Holy Spirit taught me how to be a good fucking liar, yup, and I wish more people knew that! And being in church last night, being so fucking sceptical, man! There is a thing called the ‘impercipient”. That’s a person that goes in a church, and sees people praying, and the grandeur, and the priest and they want to believe – God damn it, I wanna be one of them people, that feel safe, that believe in a greater being, that’s going to affect my existence and my eternal fucking life, my eternal soul! It’s like I want those things, I see those people and I want that, I want that comfort! How amazing would it be to have it, but I can’t, I’m an impercipient, there’s something about me that I can’t get across.
You are American, and you have these incredible open spaces, African people have them, Mongolians have them, we as Europeans we lack lack this sprawling spiritual disposition because we don’t have this expanding emptiness around us. We are caught between the mountains and the sea, so our countryside doesn’t spread like it does for you. We stop, you American’s can’t stop. The desert, gives you this relationship with God or Infinity, a never ending openness that keeps on opening.
Right, right, right… Of course geography is going to affect psychology! I talk to people, to Majorcans, true Majorcans, and maybe one of the good descriptions I heard is that they are very, very timid, and I’m like – Of course they are timid, they live on a fucking island! So yeah geography affects so much of who you are. It was a huge thing for me, when I was young, and being out in the desert, I was reading On The Road, and there was like this moment, I used to think I was like a bird, now I think I was a fucking drone, but something lifting into the sky, I can almost see it now in my little mind, all the roads are connected to everywhere, all the way to the fucking coast, and all of a sudden I realised – Man you’re not stuck anywhere, you are not fucking stuck! There’s miles, there’s fucking endless miles, like, you can start walking now man, and you wont fucking end for a goddamn year! I didn’t live in the moment, but it was when I understood infinity is out there for me.
Interview and Photography by Andrea Vecchiato