Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Adam Green
In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz an artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: the former Moldy Peach member and cult singer-songwriter
1According to the oral history Meet Me In The Bathroom: Rebirth And Rock’n’Roll in New York City, 2001-2011, which outfit of yours caused The Strokes’ drummer Fab Moretti to punch a mailbox after defending you?
“[Laughs] Well, this is the kind of thing you definitely remember! I was wearing a Robin Hood outfit.”
CORRECT. It was in Glasgow, when The Moldy Peaches supported The Strokes on tour in 2001.
“And Kimya [Dawson, his Moldy Peaches bandmate] was wearing a bunny outfit. We were getting picked on in a kebab shop and Fab was defending my honour and somehow that ended up in a situation where he was punching a mailbox in frustration! [Laughs]”
He broke his hand, meaning he had to be replaced in the tour…
“There was a meeting in a hotel room about what was going to happen, because it was such an unexpected event. There were all kinds of propositions, like: ‘We can get the drummer of the Mull Historical Society’ or ‘We can get the drummer from Gorillaz’, but it ended up being Matt Romano, the drummer in The Strokes’ manager Ryan Gentles’ band [The Selzers] who ended up replacing Fab. He learned the songs in two days and flew over, so it didn’t end up ruining anything. It’s a funny, crazy memory.”
Did The Strokes have to defend you a lot on that tour?
“A little bit. The Robin Hood suit seemed to attract attention – maybe because I was coming to England and everyone had something very personal about Sherwood Forest! [Laughs] But honestly, The Strokes had to defend their own honour more, because people were coming to town to try to kick their asses to knock them down a bit. Not realising that all The Strokes are really big guys – they’re all over sox-feet tall!”
2Can you remember any of the alternative band names you suggest to the Libertines’ Carl Barât during your 2005 German Into the Night With documentary, which follows you both on an evening in London?
“[Laughs] I do remember the Four Amigos, because he continues to reference it to this day! I’d be in a band called The Four Amigos with Carl! I think I also suggested The Horses but he didn’t want to do it because there’s an association of horse and heroin.”
CORRECT. You only missed out your band name suggestion of ‘Croissant’.
“It makes people uncomfortable to say the word ‘croissant’ – part of the joy of being named that is you get to experience the way the person will say the word. The filmmakers tried to get us so drunk for that documentary to get us loose-lipped. And succeeded! [Laughs] They gave us a stretch limousine with all our favourite beers and bottles of whisky, which was already funny, but it was a good night.”
3Who is dressed as Mario and Luigi in your 2011 iPhone-shot, written-on-ketamine film The Wrong Ferrari?
“How could I forget this?! Dev Hynes is Mario and Macaulay Culkin is Luigi.”
“The whole Zintendo records set is built in Macaulay Culkin’s apartment, which in the film is the record label that wants to sign me on tour and turn me into a video game character. I was filming the movie on my phone and had this idea that ever since I got a cell phone, I had gone into a video game and my life was now about pushing buttons forever and trying to win at life! I’m Awesome Adam now and this is my controller and I have to try my best with this device.
“Macauley Culkin agreeing to do the film happened because he came to see my show in Stuttgart and stayed with us on our tour bus afterwards and got excited about us shooting this film on iPhone. He created a gravity where everybody wanted to be involved. When we returned to New York, we didn’t want the movie to stop so he suggested we build all the sets in his house.
“The Wrong Ferrari was a funny time because I went to Amsterdam and found a ketamine dealer and it was developed mainly from that. When I think about it now, some of it was so much fun and a snapshot of 2011 New York. But I recently started creating a list of moments I’m embarrassed about that happened around that time in case there’s anybody I need to apologise to in the afterlife! [Laughs] My philosophy in The Wrong Ferrari was ‘You can never be embarrassed enough’, because it cleanses your soul. Every time you’re embarrassed is a chance to grow.”
4In your surreal 2016 film Adam Green’s Aladdin, the lamp is used to print out a chair made of which vegetable?
“So, in my Aladdin, the lamp is a 3D printer. In the scene, all these people get to make a wish and Zoë Kravitz plays a miner who wishes for an asparagus chair and the lamp prints it out and she sits in it.”
“All the sets and props are made from papier-mache, so I had to become my own genie because everything the genie printed I had to physically make with my friends in the crew. It was fun. I’d love to have my own version of the Golden Age of Hollywood where I could say: ‘Here’s the key to Studio Two’s warehouse – let’s make our own papier-mache version of Frankenstein’.”
For a bonus half-point, before being crucified, what is Macaulay Culkin crowned as in the video you direct for Father John Misty’s 2017 song ‘Total Entertainment Forever’?
“I know this! Is it the King of Cucks?”
“That was when the alt-right were calling people cucks on social media. I remember us both saying: ‘We should start an art studio and then everyone who buys our paintings, we should privately refer to them as cucks’. We’d be like: ‘I just sold some paintings to some cucks the other day!’’
You’ve decapitated Mac in Aladdin, strapped him to a cross in ‘Total Entertainment Forever’… do you get a kick out of finding new and inventive ways to torture him?!
“He didn’t love that [being crucified]. We were shooting in the morning and he was already wasted and he’d had enough and was annoyed at me. So he pulled me into the bathroom and made me copiously drink with him until I was completely wrecked. And then we were both cool. But the thing about rock music is you can actually do this job drunk. The Strokes taught me this. On tour, they told me the best way to be able to perform drunk is to practice [while] drunk, which I feel was profound!”
5Michael Cera and Elliot Page famously performed The Moldy Peaches’ ‘Anyone Else but You’ in the 2007 film Juno. Name any other three bands on its soundtrack.
“Cat Power, Sonic Youth and The Velvet Underground?”
“That period was so random. After they emailed us to ask if they could use the song in the movie, we didn’t hear anything for a year until we were asked to play ‘Anyone Else but You’ at the premiere. It all happened because Elliot Page told them The Moldy Peaches was a band the character Juno would like. All of a sudden we’re performing it at this star-studded premiere, and Juno’s the most popular movie and its soundtrack is Number One. Then we were asked to play The View, the morning talk-show with [US broadcasting legend] Barbara Walters.
“It was unexpected because our band had been broken up for six years at that point, There were no plans to return at all. On the set of The View, Barbara Walters said: ‘You guys have got to get this band back together. You’re hot’. We replied: ‘I don’t think we’re ready because we haven’t even played together in six years apart from this week’. It was weird and very difficult to be in the moment.”
Who knew Barbara Walters would be clamouring for a Moldy Peaches reunion?!
“She’s actually famously not a fan because she did an interview with Conan O’Brien around that time talking about how we came on our show and she doesn’t get us or the song. She thought we were shlubby, gross, greasy, dirty people that came on her show. And we were! [Laughs] We didn’t even play the song in a spirited way. We were just indie intruders. She didn’t get it; we didn’t get it either. No-one got it.”
6How many helicopters appear on the front cover of your 2019 graphic novel War and Paradise?
“[Laughs] You’re killing me! I don’t know! I’m going to guess… two?”
WRONG. So close – it’s three.
“That’s a deep cut! War and Paradise was written as a movie and it was intended as the sequel to Aladdin in the same world, but I ended up making it as a graphic novel instead.”
7Which two bands did you perform between at 2005’s Reading Festival?
“This is a philosophical question because I was recently questioning whether I had performed at Reading festival at all in 2005! I’m going to say The Last Shadow Puppets and The Cribs?”
WRONG. Although you did play the same stage with them in 2008. In 2005, you were sandwiched between The Dresden Dolls and tent headliners Echo and the Bunnymen.
“Oh yeah! I remember thinking Echo and the Bunnymen were too big to be playing that little tent. I always thought I had a special bond with Reading and Leeds festivals and belonged there. I saw Guns N’ Roses when I played there [in 2010] when I was on ketamine.”
8Complete the next lyrics: ‘Let’s dismantle the Royal Family and start a revolution…’
“Wait! [Starts singing] ‘Let’s dismantle the Royal Family and start a revolution…..’ Is it ‘I said fuck-a-fuck-a-you, fuck-a-fuck-a-me’?
CORRECT. It’s from ‘Royal Family’ from the Moldy Peaches’ upcoming album ‘Origin Story: 1994 – 1999’, a collection of songs, unreleased demos, live tracks and poems tracing the early years of the band.
“I can remember singing that song in Scotland with Kimya and Fab [Moretti of the Strokes]. At one point, the lyric was: ‘Little Scottish girls wearing leather pants’, but I think Fab changed it. Maybe I should credit him as co-author… I do not even know how that song came about, but maybe we should come over and play it for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Concert [laughs].”
What’s it felt like unearthing the old demos for ‘Origin Story…’?
“It’s not an example of a band hitting its stride and doing great stuff. Sorry, ‘Origin Music’, but it’s our earliest recordings, a lot of it is 30 years old, and listening to it felt like a warm hug. It felt nostalgic, like being in Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘90s apartment listening to kids have fun with a four-track. I’m hoping it encourages people to start their own bands because you can hear how awkward it is – but you can also hear moments where we put our brains together and start to hit a stride. If I didn’t want to reform The Moldy Peaches as a 20 or thirty-something, you can imagine how weird it is now I’m 40 to revisit my 14- year-old self in front of everyone.”
Would you ever reform The Moldy Peaches?
“Me and Kimya talk about it, but I think it would be funny to keep holding out until we’re senior citizens, so The Moldy Peaches go from a band associated with being kids to senior citizens with nothing in between.”
9On Germany’s biggest chatshow, which band of brothers did you once claim you had fought with in Iraq together in a special celebrity unit?
“I did a songwriting retreat with them, so we were on a song together that came out that was really cool. They’re classic American rock. And if you’re ever in a war or combat situation with them, they will not let you down! My goal for every TV appearance was to disrupt reality a little.”
10You wrote and sing on The Paddingtons 2010 song, ‘Lady Boy’. What is the name of the venue in the video?
“Wow! Is it possible it’s the Adelphi?”
CORRECT. The venue in Hull
“That is the favourite pub of The Paddingtons. I wasn’t in Hull with them for that: I was in LA in front of a green screen.”
The verdict: 8.5/10
“That’s like passing! That’s a solid C!”
– ‘The Moldy Peaches: Origin Story 1994-1999’ will be released February 25 on classic black vinyl, CD, and cassette formats