Field Day 2012: Tim Burgess' Guide To R. Stevie Moore
, April 23rd, 2012 06:34
R. Stevie Moore is playing the Quietus Village Mentality Stage at Field Day 2012. Here, his collaborator Tim Burgess (who'll be DJing around R. Stevie's gig at Field Day) guides us through his Strange World...
He has his own language
It's in music and when he speaks, somewhere between Kerouac and Dr. Seuss. If there's no word for it, he makes it up. If there is a word for it he makes a better one. I love it when he says things like "WOW! BLESS THEE" and calls me Brotherman, and the way he signs off with LoveRS.
He's a busy man
He's recorded more albums than most people actually own. You could listen to a new track each day and it'd take you ten years. Just have a think about that. Amazingly enough it's still quality rather than quantity.
His dad too...
You're never more than 60 feet from a record his dad played bass on. The most recorded bass player in history - he played bass for Elvis and Johnny Cash, was orchestra leader for Roy Orbison and was sideman to Jerry Lee Lewis. He played on 'Are You Lonesome Tonight', 'Only The Lonely', 'King Of The Road', 'Unchained Melody', 'Crazy', 'Coal Miners Daughter', 'It's Now Or Never' and 'El Paso'. They are such iconic songs you don't even need to say the artist. But this isn't about his Dad is it?
Lo Fi High Fives... A Kind Of Best Of
He trusted me with his compiling his Best Of. I was trying to insert the idea into his mind and somehow it worked. It was easy. I chose the songs R. Stevie told me which ones I could or couldn't use. Putting a compilation together takes using a different part of your brain. You don't want to be too obvious and you realise that with someone like R. Stevie that the definitive Best of... is almost impossible. No sooner have you listened to a good proportion of his 400 albums, than you've got an email containing 20 new tracks that he wants you to hear. I went for a few wild cards, the recent O Genesis single, a couple of undiscovered gems and a couple of collaborations with other artists including Ariel Pink. The deal was made over a take out pizza. It's like he's the Mr. Miyagi to my Karate Kid - it was such an honour R Stevie San.
They always say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach? No. You can tell how big a man is by the size of his shoes? Nah. I am told you can always tell the man by his choice of footwear. But for me, I always choose who I want to work with by the type of glasses they wear and R.Stevie has the most distinctive, somewhere between Paulina Porizkova, J.Mascis and Rose West. His look is kind of futuristic biker Santa meets disgruntled children's TV presenter, channelling penitentiary chic.
You can hear his influence everywhere
I first came across R Stevie through a friend in LA in the mid 2000's. The first song I heard was 'Showbiz Is Dead'. It blew my mind - the bass line is killer, tight as fuck. The friend was Jason Faulkner who played with Jellyfish, The Three O'Clock, AIR, Beck, and the fabulous Grays. Jason is now part of the new supergroup Ku Klux Glam with Ariel and R.Stevie. It's a small world. Once I'd heard some R. Stevie Moore, I started to notice his influence in other bands. Have you heard the song 'Kitchen Club' by Ariel Pink? It's on the album Scared Famous. If you have, then have you ever thought it sounded a little like 'City Soundtrack' from the R. Stevie Moore Skeletons LP? If yeah, give yourself five points... the song was written by R. Stevie and given the Ariel treatment - it's probably the main reason I got bitten by the R. Stevie Moore bug. Like CRAZY. 'Kitchen Club' is my favourite song in the world... today. Ariel Pink gives the same treatment to 'Initial Craving' from Skeletons for 'Where Does My Mind Go'. It's a huge song in my opinion. One source, two sorcerers - their unique collaborations had passed me by for nearly a decade until my R. Stevie Moore and Ariel Pink epiphany. He encouraged Ariel to just use any of his stuff that he wanted. When I mentioned this to R. Stevie he said, "I was always aware of it, but didn't pay it much attention. Besides, my track is rather buried under his glorious overdubs & composing. Perfection!" I suppose that when you're 400 albums in you just become part of the fabric of music. When you're trying something new, chances are R. Stevie may just well have tried it before you. Just by the law of averages.
'The Doors Of Then'
I had been recording my album with a full band (bass/ drums/ acoustic guitar/ lead guitar and keyboards) and a scaled down version of the band (bass/ acoustic guitar/ keyboards) to make sure we got the right versions of each song. A song called 'The Doors Of Then' just hadn't worked with either version of the band. It needed something special. I visited R. Stevie in Madison which was 30 miles from where we were recording in Nashville. He knew what the song needed, we worked on a version where he played everything except drums and it's the one that'll be on my album… He thinks it sounds like The Monkees.
The Video for 'I Like To Stay Home'
It features the 1986 vintage R. Stevie wearing a dressing gown playing a miniature guitar, hitting himself with his dressing gown belt. Ouch. At 1.24 minutes the drummer appears for the first time with an elephant trunk for a nose then a pig mask. It stuck with me and I really wanted to make a suitable video for 'Pop Music', his first single on O Genesis. We couldn't bring him over to do a video so we brought in our Phil, our puppeteer friend who does Hacker, the crackers dog on C Beebies. I've never had so much fun making a video. Have a look at it on YouTube now.
The social networking silver surfer
You won't find anyone more active on the internet as R. Stevie Moore. YouTube him I dare you, it's at your own risk. Kids have grown up with stuff like facebook and they can get jaded pretty quick. To R. Stevie it must have been the best gift ever. The major label stranglehold of music was shaken off and he could speak directly to those that loved his music. At any time of day. His emails are something else too. Everything with him is so fresh it just makes you glad to be alive. And maybe a bit guilty about taking things for granted. It's like he's had rose tinted laser eye surgery.
He never follows the rules
He just makes his own. He's a pathfinder and I love what he does. R. Stevie Moore's attention span is kind of perfect. He seems to think of other things while working on something else completely there's ALWAYS a conveyer belt, always moving, always with something on it. As well as all that, there's the fact we pretty much agree on everything musically - he loves Factory Records and has a song called 'For Vini', as in Reilly, and has a song 'Having A Real Fit (Hannett Mix)'. It wasn't mixed by the great Manc sound-god, I just think he wanted to name check him. We also share a love of Factory Floor – I say 'Wooden Box', he says 'Bipolar'. He calls Nik Void 'BeatNik'. Yep, he's alright is R. Stevie.
R. Stevie Moore plays the Quietus Village Mentality Stage at Field Day 2012 on June 2nd. For more information and tickets please visit the Field Day website.