Interview From "Notes From Underground" (1983)

by Derrick Bostrom in

The following is an interview transcribed almost in it's entirety. The group is the Meat Puppets. The time Is March 1983. The place is the Meat Puppets dining room, somewhere In Glendale Ariz. READ AND ENJOY!

NFU - Tony Victor

Derrick Bostrom - Drums

Curt Kirkwood Guitar, vocals

Cris Kirkwood Bass, vocals

NFU: Describe, if any, the effect drugs have on your music

Curt: They don't have any effect on my music. They effect my ability to play it. The music is always at a certain point at a certain time with me, so if I take drugs, it just distorts the way I perceive or translate at that time. But it's always at a certain point, more or less.

Derrick: All lies, all lies! Well, I have all these pet theories, and, of course, theories are are things that haven't been proven yet, so you should take my theories with a grain of salt...The pot helps keep us...It makes the weakest link in any arguement seem, ah...If I'm going to do something...No, if I have the choice of doing eight different things, I can get stoned and some of the things will seem out of the question and others I'll be able to do. Drugs never kept me from making music. They have kept me from doing other things. For instance, if we get ripped off by a promoter, and we're really stoned, we won't even care; at least for the moment. Drugs help me focus or the music -- in theory.

NFU: Do you think music can have an effect on change?

Curt: I think that as I watch, I know that it does because everything that is in society has an effect on social change because everything changes. I think that say like if you were to explode a nuclear device somewhere downtown, it would have a bigger effect on society. I think that, society is vanishing and at this point I'd like to reach out and touch each and every one of the readers.

NFU: Can I use that lighter for a second?

Derrick: Sure.

NFU: What direction do you think the human race Is heading in?

C: I think it's disappearing.

NFU: Can it be stopped?

C: I don't see why anyone would want to stop it. I mean, what good has it ever been?

NFU: So you don't worry about political issues?

C: I don't think I'm accurately informed on any of that stuff. All I get to read is the newspaper. All you ever get is second-hand information.

D: I'm very opinionated about the press but I don't know anything about the facts.

C: I mean,let's all get worked up about a little note that somebody drops by; and that's all it amounts to.

NFU: Do you think there's an absolute good and evil?

D: Yeah, and your looking at him. No, I think there's an "absolute" but not a good and evil.

C: I don't know, that sounds pretty abstract. To me, it sounds abstract because I can only feel so good before I'm reminded of how bad I can feel. I relate good and bad just to my own personal feelings.

D: Do you think good and evil can be defined? That's almost the same question.In thinking that there is a good and evil -- that might be evil.

K: I specifically say no,there is no good or evil. That's a totally absurd, primitive, pagan concept.Every form of life is only Reality Documentation. There reality,and then there's the documentation of it. There's no such thing as true experieince. It's all separated from real life as far as I'm concerned. The mind, being the way it is, won't allow us to have the experience of life. Life is the truth and this is the documentation of it. And we take our document with us into the truth and match wits with the worms. I'm just being funny, that's all.

NFU: What is a Meat Puppet?

D: Generally, most people who ask what it is already know.The song,"Meat Puppets" goes, "Meat Puppets can do this, this, this, this and this; Meat Puppets can do anything; Meat Puppets can also do this, this,this, this and this; and this is what I think about that".

C: Our subtitle is,"Reality Documentationalists". It means, try as you will to do anyhing in a graceful way...the truth is always way different than the way you percieve it, and so your at odds with nature literally. What art would be is basically an outcry and a protest against nature; that gives it no boundary. That would make nature the string puller; and Meat Puppets is just a way of saying "Reality Documentationalizer


D: To me, the best may to control your life would be to not control your life. By taking control of your life in the common respect would be to merely react to circumstances under which you have no control so you're not really in control of your life. But,if you ignore the things that affect you...In a sense, not to take control is the only way to take control.

NFU: So thoughtlessness is something to be achieved?

C: Oh,we already have utter thoughtlessness.

D: The band,when we first played together,we played so good that we were able to make the music our foundation.We started with good music, so that leaves us an awful lot of time to spend on other efforts; to really experiment with what happens on earth and document it. I don't really understand Documentar Realization.

C: It's everythingl It's like there's a truth,but....

D: But what about people like Nixon who don't think that way. They never find that out and they confound me.

C: Their lives are exactly the same as ours because there's no way you can hit upon a documentation that is original in any way. It's all just cleverness; and walking is a ploy; thinking is a ploy; living is a ploy; it's all a ploy.

(Conversation quickly changes to the relationship between Derrick and audience)

D: I wanted to stay in touch with the humans, but I realize that, just like in real life, I can't like members of the audience if I don't know them. I can't remain accessible to the audience because there is no audience, there's just people I don't know as opposed to people I'm intimate with. It's like I realize that the concept of accessibility is not real and that all it really comes down to is letting people walk all

over you.

NFU: Can art be prostituted?

C: No, it can't; the concept of life itself is a prostitution.

D: No,we don't prostitute our music,we date our music, we go Dutch Treat with our music.

NFU: How often are you happy?

D: That's a very relative question. In some respects I'm happy all the time; in some respects I'm happy none of the time. Uh,most of the time I'm happy.

C: I'm sick of being just happy. I wanna be...

D: King?

C: No, I'm sick of being just happy. I think the government should set up a program that would keep me ecstatic continually.

NFU: What would keep you ecstatic continually?

C: I don't know. I think they should figure it out.

D: I'm not happy that pot is against the law; that I can't get more pot; that smoking pot hurts my health; that smoking pot costs a lot of money; that people...

C: That they hated the man and that he was a robot?

D: I'm not happy that people who don't smoke pot are difficult to comprehend. I know that I have explored my alternatives, so I'm happy enough.

C: Don't you think our lives lend us pitifully little conclusive evidence to deal with?

NFU: Does that mean we are all in a constant state of confusion?

C: Yes. Confusion envelopes that question....

(Subject changes)

C: He's (Tony) not gonna be able to transcribe this interview...

NFU: No, I'll do it alright.

D: If he can make up the questions he can edit it, too.

C: Alright then, I'd like to kill everyone; and walk on the little guy, stomp, mutilate....

NFU: What's your favorite pastime, aside from music and drugs?

D: Well, I personally had always put more of my eggs into the writing and drawing area than in the music area....Living....Reading....

NFU: Do you have any goals and ambitions?

D: Well, Curt talked about how held like to step on the little guy already.

NFU: I'm prettly little!

C: No, come on now, I didn't mean it that way. I meant all little people. That was just figurative, it's a media term.

Chris: Oh,are you doing the interview?

NFU: Yes.

Ch: I've got to go to the store.

NFU: Do you like living in Phoenix?

D: Yes.

C: I like to think in terms of Phoenix living off me.

NFU: Tell me some things about your national tour.

D: Well,there was a lot of these hateful things about the Bad Brains while we were on tour and when we got back and it's nobody's business what I do!

NFU: So you don't want to talk about the tour.

D: No, I do. One of the things I want to talk about is how fucked everybody is (who said) "Well,the Bad Brains don't like homosexuals and the Bad Brains are thieves" and it's just racism. People who don't like the Bad Brains are racists.

NFU: You think that people who don't like them shouldn't say so?

D: They should but if they do then they run the risk of being thought stupid by me. I can see right through their petty, stupid little argumerts and they are wrong.

(conversation returns to pop music)

C: I think the stuff on the radio today is top notch. I don't care what anybody says. I think anyone that comes up with a negative reality documentation must have a brain tumor.

NFU: Oh yeah?

C: Sure,it's obvious.

D: I don't even like records that much.

C: See,Derrirk has got a really big brain tumor; it's the size of a basketball.

D: He doesn't know what he's taking about. I'm just trying to answer the questions. I don't give a shit if people understand me. And I don't have a brain tumor; I'm healthy.

C: Wait! Here's the thing that I just realized that I have to say. Besides the bullshit we've spewed out, ,the Meat Puppets are indeed the greatest band that you'd hope for, the band that will stay out of your way and produce the great music...

D: Yeah, what do I have to say? If anybody wants to read this and pay attention to the words, please feel free to. If anybody wants to ignore what I've said, please feel free to as well because that is equally valid.

C: Oh wow! He's giving the audience the opportunity of freedom.

NFU: What a swell guy.

D: No, I'm trying to make a point. What I'm. trying to say is it's not historical....

C: Well, I don't know about you, Tony, but I don't think I want to give the audience that choice. Do you?

NFU: I don't think thay have any choice whether Derrick gives it to them or not. I think we are all devoid of choice.

C: I tend to agree with that. I'll go along with anything that will keep me from disagreeing.

D: Well, any of the readers that could get pissed at me, had better.T hat's the way I feel.

C: Derrick swallows jism and doesn't spit it out.

D: 1 don't see how you can say that about me. That would be misconstrued immediately. These....These people who don't like me....

C: Hey! If the Bad Brains are listening, I'd like to say that was a joke!

D: Look, these people who don't like me

C: You denied having a tumor, right? Derrick denied the tumor, right?(To Tony)

D: I don't have a tumor! I don't have a brain tumor!

C: A basketball-sized brain tumor.

D: My head's not even the size of a basketball. I don't know what you're talking about. If you're gonna get semantic on me, I'm gonna tell you that all my answers are conceived around the interview. My conceptual brain may or nay not be tumored, but my actual brain

certainly is not.

NFU: (To Curt) So I guess he does deny it.

C: Yep.

D: Of course I deny it!

C: That's the classic sign of someone that has sorething wrong with their head, is that they won't admit it.

D: What if I said that I admitted having something wrong with my head?

C: Why would you want to go around spouting it off like that? Why would you want, to make it a public announcement? I wouldn't, myself.

D: You brang up the concept of a brain tumor because you said that anybody who would come up with anything but positive reality projection must have a brain tumor. Well, obviously I don't have a brain tumor: what have I said that's negative? You're just projecting your own negativity off on me. I'm taking all this in good faith.

C: Wait a second.I'm the one who said you had a brain tumor; I'm the one with the credibility at stake!

D: Yeah,well, I know what you mean, but I can't see why you would want to appear to discredit me regardless of what your true intentions were. The people who read this mag are animals.

C: No! Don't tell them that!

D: I could give a shit!

C: Now what if there is some girl out there reading this that might want to take your stiff,moss covered, elastic penis up her?

D: I can't take time for beauty, Curt, I'm trying to rush through my life as quickly as possible.

C: I know, but what if she has a vagina the size of a life preserver? People are trained not to think about filthy stuff.

D: I do all the time.

C: They're not trained to deal with too open knowledge of everyone knowing that, ah...

D: Well, I'd like everyone to know that my penis is covered with moss.

C: Right! They're not trained to deal with everyone hearing the word penis at one time.

D: Not penis, but other words are ok. We're just working up to penis.We're just slow.

C: Well, penis is just too rubberry a word.

D: I have faith in the human race. I think they'll oneday be able to approach the word penis.

C: I don't know about faith but I think that as the human beings fade off into the distance, I'd like to call out to them: PENIS!

D: I don't see why people like us.

C: Because for a quarter (50 cents),they get to hear another chapter of your faulty, tumor-affected documentation.

D: My words are worth a million dollars and I am seriously giving them to Mr.Victor for free.And, if in the course of our relationship I ever feel the need to remind Mr. Victor that I gave him these words for free,I will.

C: Hi.This is Curt Kirkwood and under orders from Derrick Bostrom I am physically forcing Tony to beg Derrick for his advice. Thank you Tony.

D: It's like all these bands that don't think there is any business involved are just getting ripped off really badly; like me, for instance.

NFU: You don't think there's any business involved?

D: I do,but I'm getting ripped off anyway. No, we're all getting ripped off in one way or another.

K: Right. It's a big fight against nature.

D: I'm preaching the line of non-acceptance to the way things are. That's why I have a brain tumor. Curt doesn't have to worry, though,because I accept him the way he is.

C: Yeah,we have decided that my tumor is to remain a secret.

D: I love it, because the people who don't like me will attack me whether there is a reason or not, so why should I be consistant? The people who like me are gonna be able to see through that anyway. The people who like me for the wrong reasons are gonna get the worst of it in the long run anyway,one way or another.

NFU: Do you dislike anybody?

D: Not for very long.

NFU: Is anything important?

D: Yeah.What I think is important.

C: Our fans are important. Our record-buying audience is important. They are among the most important people in the world. They cherish our munitions and put bread on our table. Relatively important.

NFU: Would you like to say anything in closing?

D: I'm still looking for an angel with a broken wing.

C: I'm still looking for an angel that can give head and cook at the same time.

D: That's not fair, you should have asked us in seperate rooms.