Mystery Gothic Radio 12 A.D.
Interview with Brian Cullman
Brian Cullman’s Website
Interview starts around 30:00 Minutes into the show.
Whiskey: Hey Brian.
Brian: Hey, how are you?
Whiskey: It’s good, good, good. How are you?
Brian: Doing just great, better from hearing from you.
Whiskey: Sweet. So, yeah, I just heard a couple, we just played a couple tracks of yours on the show, and they’re really good. And it’s really like, it’s very folky, and it’s really cool. And you’ve got this new album out called The Opposite of Time, and I wanted to know a little bit more about it. So it’s an odd title, like…
Brian: You know I, that’s one of the things, it’s so hard to come up with the name of a band, or the name of a record, and you know, I’ve had a really hard time with both. So with, you know, the last album that I made was about five years ago, and I stole a title from an Argentine writer I love, Julio Cortezar, and I called it All Fires the Fire. And All Fires the Fire is a story in a collection that Cortezar has about simultaneous events, it’s about a fire that breaks out in the Coliseum in Rome back, you know, a few hundred years B.C., and at the same time it’s about a fire that rages in an apartment in Rome now. And the two fires become one fire, and the two events merge into one in, you know, in the way in sort of fabulous fantastical fiction. You know, all bets are off, and all times are one time. And you know, I was basically going to take the cheap way out and I had a bunch of short story titles that I’d cribbed from either Donald Barthame or Joey Williams, and none of them felt right. And I started playing with different ideas about time, because so many of the songs seem to be about looking at time in different ways, and I just decided to call it The Opposite of Time, I guess in the hopes that someone would tell me what that is.
Whiskey: I don’t know, for me, I mean, because I did, I sat around and I thought about it. Like, and you know, I thought about it, and I thought about it like from the perspective of like ancient African tribes people, like time equals space, time equals the time it takes to walk from one place to another, right? So you know, there time is literally measured in footsteps. And then I think okay, what’s the opposite of that? And thought, well is it like a spiritual thing? Is it a death thing? Is this some sort of like strange negative space that you’ve created or?
Brian: You know, it’s, I don’t know whether the opposite of time is being outside of time. So I don’t know whether infinity is the opposite of time, or you know, the end of time being the opposite of time. I really don’t know, and I’m not being cute about it, I just, I came up with a line that confused me, and I figured, if it made me think it might make someone else stop for a second, and I guess that’s what you want. So, or that’s what I want, so.
Whiskey: Well, I mean, by these people’s approximations, okay, so space is the opposite of time. So you know, my immediate thought is negative space, with sort of like drives us into this, you know, it’s something that you can see in painting, you know, like negative space is very easy. Like your shadow, is your shadow the opposite of time? I mean, no your shadows not the opposite of time, your shadow just reacts to your time. I don’t know, it is very, very tricky and it’s a very hard concept to roll around in my head. So you know, thank you, thank you for joining me and thank you for discussing this. So two one two, that’s an old New York area code, they don’t give those anymore.
Brian: Yeah, I, well I’ve been in New York most of my life, so I basically hung on to a two one two, I wouldn’t let it go. I was born here, and I’ve lived other places, I spent a lot of time in Providence Rhode Island, I spent some time in Paris, spent time traveling and living on various little islands. A wonderful island called Formentera with no electricity and where basically at night the animals would take over the island and you had to find your way from one place to another, either by the stars or by the sound of goats. But, New York is always where I’ve come back to, and…
Whiskey: That sounds wonderful.
Brian: I like, where are you? Where, I know who I’m talking to, but I don’t know where I’m talking to.
Whiskey: Oh, Staten Island.
Brian: Oh Staten Island. Well that’s, you know, the home of the first Tibetan museum in the western hemisphere.
Whiskey: It is?
Brian: It is, yeah. I used to make pilgrimages out there, I would go and it always confused me that there were these wonderful objects from the foothills of Tibet, and the people who ran the museum had never been to Tibet, and you know, I found it sort of fascinating and kind of sad at the same time.
Brian: You know, it’s sort of, but that is what I know about Staten Island, that, and that my friend Vernon Reid lives up there.
Whiskey: He does?
Whiskey: Oh my goodness. Vernon, you know, Vernon Reid is an awesome guitarist. I know, I remember Living Colour well, and holy crap. Yeah, so, I live in like bumble hell Staten Island, it’s like underneath the Verrazano Bridge next to the coast guard base. There’s nobody here, it’s empty, it’s really weird.
Brian: But that could be a good thing.
Whiskey: Oh it’s a great thing.
Brian: The opposite of people.
Whiskey: Yeah, totally. It’s the opposite of New York, it’s so weird, it’s like Hicksville. But not really, you know, it’s right across the bridge, but you know, seventeen fifty, nobody actually does that, you know.
Brian: Oh well. You know Vernon was the guitarist in my old band, OK Savant for a while.
Whiskey: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I…
Brian: And Vernon, can I tell you a Vernon story for a second?
Whiskey: Oh I would love a Vernon story.
Brian: You know, I heard Vernon for the first time way, way back. He was in a band with a drummer named Roland Chenin Jackson and I stumbled in to a sort of cool, I was going to say jazz club, but it was more than that, it was a place called Seventh Avenue South. And they had all sorts of little events, and it was also pretty cheap. And if you came late you could usually just slide in and nobody, you know, noticed that you were there. And I used to do that, I used to stay up late, which I don’t that much anymore. I get up at five in the morning, so it’s hard for me to be up until two thirty. But, you know, this was like two in the morning and I was walking past, so I heard this sound and I went in and there was this band playing, and it was a great drummer, and it was a great bass player. But it was this phenomenal guitarist, and I just was riveted and I stood there and I heard this thing that was sort of like futuristic Hendrix. It was something out of, you know, sort of Jimi Hendrix playing with Miles Davis on the corner or something. And I just stood there transfixed and it was their last song, but the song when on about twenty minutes. And they were packing up, and as they were packing up I went over and introduced myself to the guitarist, and it was Vernon. And I said, listen, I’d love to get together and you know, talk about stuff and hear what you’re doing. And he was really, you know, really pleased that I had stopped, and he very quietly pulled out a piece of scrap paper and he wrote down his name and phone number, and I put it in my pocket and then I walked out the door and I’d gotten about ten steps and I heard this running behind me. And it was Vernon, and he came running up and said, I forgot something, and can I have that piece of paper? And I was like, sure. I was really worried that he was going to take it away from me, that you know, I wasn’t worthy. You know, basically it was like nah, you can’t have my number. But he took the paper back and very quietly under his name wrote down, guitar. You know, as if I was going to forget.
Whiskey: Yeah, totally.
Brian: Yeah, I, you know, so…
Whiskey: A hell of a guitarist, I got to say that. But you’ve studied, I mean you’ve been abroad, you’ve been all over the place. I mean, I read a quote from something written about your times here in New York, was it Moths making love to the moon, on the moon, was actually the quote that came to mind. You know, talking about old New York. And so, before Vernon Reid, I mean you’ve met some fairly serious celebrities, that’s like, you know, the story presented is relatively crazy with Neko…
Brian: Well here’s the thing that, well I mean I was the kid in the room. I mean I was like the sort of thirteen, fourteen year old with my face pressed against the window. And that was at a time when frankly nobody was paying attention to music. I mean it wasn’t, it wasn’t a celebrity culture. So you know, when I drop names, which I do, you know, without question, these people weren’t celebrities. They were people that I admired, and they were people that I looked up to. But I could walk up and you know, ask how they tuned their guitar, or you know, how they got from you know, Philadelphia to New York, and they were really happy to tell me. Because money wasn’t a factor, no one was making any money.
Whiskey: Of course not.
Brian: And you know, I basically, I started out, you know, like a lot of people, you know, this is why it’s so exciting to be talking with you, you know, radio is my mother. I mean I grew up with you know Murray the K, and Mad Daddy, and Bob Vass and B Mitchell Reid, and all these like incredibly talented and incredibly insane damaged people guiding me through, you know, the sound of the spheres. And I don’t think I had much of a life before I had the radio. You know, I honestly didn’t know that records existed until I was about twelve. And then the moment that I found out that records existed I wanted every album ever made. You know, you know that feeling, don’t you?
Whiskey: Of course, of course. I mean I used to, what was it? Shuffle through all of the stacks at Kim’s Underground at Kim’s West, you know, looking for the new releases. Like OK Savant.
Whiskey: And so, but radio is a dying industry, it’s, I hate to say it, but as the Internet comes out and as recording, as recording becomes more important than broadcast, and as things sort of switch over and as the files fill, as YouTube grows, you know, the speed of media, how fast, how much shit can be posted, you know, within the span of a single second, it becomes, you know, a harder and harder industry. And I think somebody over at CBS kind of figured that out, and they’re selling off their radio segment.
Brian: But don’t you think it’s going to come back? Or come back in a form that we won’t recognize, but will fill the same function?
Whiskey: I think that mobile phones. Okay, so I’ll be straight up honest, remember when you were forced to go out and buy digital antenna for your television in New York because if you had your old analog antenna it would no longer work? They switched to a digital signal.
Brian: I don’t because I went through a period, forgive me, I went through a period of about fifteen years where I just wouldn’t have a TV in the house.
Whiskey: That’s fine.
Brian: And I just…
Whiskey: Because it’s just as unnecessary even now.
Brian: Now of course I have a TV, I have a TV in every room, you know, two TV’s in the bathroom, and you know, a couple of TV’s in the, you know, in the fridge just in case the eggs get lonely. But then…
Whiskey: That’s too funny.
Brian: I didn’t have a TV, so I did hear about that. But…
Whiskey: I have a black and white TV in the other room. It’s the only TV in the house, right? It is in fact black and white. And it has antenna’s, right?
Whiskey: But it no longer will receive any channels ever again in the New York, greater New York area and probably much further because everything has switched to a digital signal. Right? Which means some sort of compression or encryption, right?
Brian: Now you’re going to have to watch everything through your computer, or through your phone.
Whiskey: Essentially, yes.
Whiskey: And so you know, you do still have a live segment, you know, but, you know, on video what is a live segment going to be to the YouTube generation? And you know, how does one compete as a live broadcast when everything under the sun is available at a heartbeat.
Brian: Yeah, but that’s where you, that’s where you come in. I mean that’s where you are invaluable because as everything is available, the role of the curator, the role of the guide is more and more important.
Whiskey: I would similarly agree.
Brian: You know, the person can say, you know, here’s where Merle Haggard learned this song, here’s where he got his style from, and here’s what Graham Parsons did with Merle Haggard…
Whiskey: I think Merle Haggard’s still alive.
Brian: He died this morning.
Whiskey: You’re kidding?
Brian: No, I’m sorry to tell you.
Whiskey: Oh that sucks.
Brian: Yeah, and it’s his birthday today.
Brian: The birthday of Merle Haggard and my friend Byron Isaacs. So shout out to him, bass player from Olabelle and now with the Lumineers.
Whiskey: Oh my goodness, you’re kidding me? Merle Haggard died this morning. That’s really fucking sad. I’m sorry to say that.
Brian: Yeah, at the age of seventy-nine.
Whiskey: At seventy-nine, I thought he was a little older than that I’ll be honest.
Brian: Yeah, he’s been looking like he’s about eighty-seven for the past twenty years.
Whiskey: Yeah, totally.
Brian: But I heard him in concert. You probably did too. A couple of years ago, and you know, he looked terrible, he looked like basically he’d been ridden hard and put away wet. But he sounded great, and he was opening for Bob Dylan who didn’t, didn’t sound as good, and didn’t sound as committed. Merle Haggard sounded like he meant every word he’s sang.
Whiskey: Because he probably did.
Brian: And he had just an amazing band.
Whiskey: It’s funny you mention Bob Dylan and Merle Haggard. You know, I was thinking about this a lot, you know, coming up on this interview with you, and you know, there is something to be said about the folk movement and mass media and brain washing and you know, the sort of like counterculture. I was watching this horrible documentary the other day about seventies television, and what they pronounced with very obvious disparity was that the PBS station was playing Monty Python with full on people shooting each other, you know, in the back, you know, full blood, whatever, and it didn’t even fucking matter, and nobody complained. While corporate television was being completely censored and had this huge fight in Congress. Which is sort of this weird disparity for things.
Whiskey: You know, like where one side of it is, I don’t know, I don’t know how to put that, and it brought me back to this thought about brain washing and about mass media and mass culture and how the folk movement and you know, the sincerity of the folk movement, I guess you know, like just being real, sort of like, you know, created this disparity between mass media culture and you know, sort of counterculture that exists even today, even if it’s incredibly augmented.
Brian: I mean I think that the, I mean I actually think that DJ’s and that the role of you know, a music curator or guide is really analogous to the folk tradition. You know, it’s not that different from you know, a griot in West Africa calling people around and telling them a story and telling them in the midst of the story where their people came from, and why people live on this side of the river, as opposed to the other side. It’s, you know, I really see the folk movement and the folk tradition as being very all encompassing. And you know it’s why I had a lot of trouble as a kid when I started playing music because I saw Buddy Holly as being very much part of the folk tradition in the same way that the Child Ballad’s were. And you know, one of the first times I played out and I mean I’m sure it wasn’t just what I was playing, I’m sure it was the fact that I was playing it very badly. But you know, I washed up in England when I was about seventeen and I was pretty terrible, but it didn’t stop me from wanting to share my lack of talent with anyone who was available. And I went to this little folk club called Bungees and people were so respectful of people who were just as bad as I was, but who were playing very serious folk songs that had been gathered up from coal miners, you know, up in Wales somewhere.
Whiskey: Oh my goodness.
Brian: And I very diligently played a couple of folk songs, and then I played Slippin’ and Slidin’, but I did it in a drop D tuning and I did it as if it was being done by Skip James. And people were horrified, and you know, it actually made people angry. Because they really saw, they felt there should be a separation, and that popular music was, was commercial dreck. Whereas you know, anything that stayed with me, you know, whether it was Buddy Holly or Little Richard, or the Leuven Brothers, or Anne Briggs, anything was fair game. And I’ve just been reading a biography of Sandy Denny, and when I was in London I became friendly with her, and I used to go around to her place and I remember playing that version of Slippin’ and Slidin’ for her, and she loved it. She got that instantly, I mean, she was miles ahead of me. But for her, it was all, whatever the emotion was in the music, the liberation of playing, the liberation of expressing yourself or expressing something that was in the air and allowing it to come through.
Whiskey: That’s very heady. So do you have any plans to play any shows out?
Brian: Yeah, I’m actually, you know, I’ve been so spoiled in my life, because I’ve had such great musicians who you know, I had Dane to accompany me, and to work with me. My band OK Savant was just you know, breathtaking. And I say that not as a member, but as a person who got to stand on the shoulders of these great players.
Whiskey: I certainly enjoyed it as a teen.
Brian: Well I, you know, I tried to be, but you know, usually the leader of a band is the, and I’m not saying this with modesty or humility, I think usually the leader of a band isn’t necessarily the most talented, but is the person who’s willing to make the phone calls.
Whiskey: Yes, outreach.
Brian: You know, basically set up the gigs and get people to come along. But the, you know, I’m starting to play and I don’t really know who’s going to be working with me. I mean, the last time I played out, do you know the band Olabelle?
Brian: Yeah, see, this drives me crazy. You really should. And just a shout out to them, they’re one of the best bands that have emerged in the last ten years and they seem to have fallen, you know, below the radar, and it’s so unfair. Such a talented group of players, they’re really the logical inheritors to The Band. And one of the main singers, Amy Helm, is the daughter of Levon Helm. And talk about like a music pedigree, Levon Helm is her biological father, she was raised by Doctor John, and Donald Fagan of Steely Dan is now her stepfather.
Whiskey: Oh my goodness. Doctor John, like the advertisements in the subways?
Brian: No, no, Doctor John, the Night Tripper.
Brian: No, not Doctor John, like that’s, you mean Doctor Zismore.
Whiskey: Doctor Zismore, oh my goodness.
Brian: The guy who would give you like fruit washes and turn you into a vegetable.
Whiskey: Why did I screw it up? And how did you know?
Brian: Because I ride the subway too, and I think of those fruit peels and I wonder what it would be like, but not in a good way. But no Olabelle is this great band, and you should have their music and you should be playing them. You know, Amy Helm, Glen Patcha, who has been out playing with Roseanne Cash and Sheryl Crow and Marianne Faithful and Roger Waters and Byron Isaacs who was the bass player.
Whiskey: Well I actually love all those people except Sheryl Crow.
Brian: Yeah, and even Sheryl Crow has had a good band. Byron Isaacs was the bass player with Levon Helms, and with Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne. Olabelle’s, when we’re off the air I’ll tell you more and I’ll send you some tracks, because they have three records and the first was on Columbia through T-Bone Burnett, the second was on Verve, and the third was on like an indie label Thirty Tigers.
Brian: But, I brought them up because the last time I played out was about five years ago and they backed me, and you know, they could make anybody sound good.
Brian: So now I’m working with a wonderful guitarist, a guy named Jimi Zhivago who was in Olabelle for a while. And do you remember Jake and the Family Jewels?
Brian: You know, it’s, I’m at a point where I want to live out all of my childhood fantasies and growing up in the city, there was this great, sort of psychedelic doo-wop group that I used to love, Jake and the Family Jewels, and they’re still around. They’re all, you know, like a hundred and twenty-seven years old, but they sound the same as they ever did. They’ve got these unbelievable voices, they all sound like Dion and like Dion mixed with John Sebastian. And so I’ve talked, you know, a couple of them into coming and performing with me. So at this point I’ve just got a couple of guitarists, and a doo-wop backing group, and what else do you need?
Whiskey: Well you certainly need media presence. I mean if you want to sell anything. If selling is your orientation. And speaking of, you’re a prestigious writer.
Brian: Well, I’m a writer, I don’t know if I’m prestigious. But I’ve been around for a bit, so I guess I’m a venerable writer, isn’t that the term?
Whiskey: Yeah, I suppose so. You’ve written for Spin, you’ve written for Rolling Stone.
Brian: Yeah, I know, I’ve written for the New York Times for Conde Nast, I was the staff writer for Conde Nast for a few years.
Whiskey: Oh goodness, that sounds horrible.
Brian: For the Village Voice, for Anateus, for Craw Daddy, for Creem.
Whiskey: I’m wearing a Village Voice hat at the moment, it’s red.
Brian: But you know, the reality is like I said before, I wanted a copy of every album ever made, you know, how could I not know what was out there? And the only way I could do that, short of owning a record store, was to write for music magazines. And if you wrote for a music magazine back in the day, record labels would send you everything that, everything they put out. Sometimes they’d send it to you twice.
Whiskey: Yeah, it was the only way. I mean nowadays people have SoundCloud. Back in the day it was like, you know, you had your in source or else you know your music habit would be you know as expensive as, you know, a current heroin habit or worse, cigarette habits at thirteen fifty a pack.
Brian: No cigarettes and heroin, those are much more healthy than a music habit.
Whiskey: Essentially I mean, you could spend a lot of money on CD’s and LP’s, I mean, a lot, a lot, a lot of money. I don’t even think people understand, like…
Brian: No, but you know, I was friends with Lester Bangs. Lester sort of mentor me and…
Whiskey: Oh hell yeah.
Brian: Into writing for Creem back in the day. And I remember…
Whiskey: Was that kill me now? Or Lester Bang, no Lester Bangs was…
Brian: Lester, well there are a couple of collections.
Whiskey: Lipstick Traces? No.
Brian: No that’s Grail Marcus.
Whiskey: That’s Grail Marcus
Brian: Grail’s still with us. Lester died about thirty years ago, and Lester just, you know, I miss Lester every day, but not because he was a wild man, but because he actually could see through music into the other side. You know, he could see into the opposite of music, and he you know, the thing is that I was always a really polite kid, doesn’t sound like it now maybe, but you know, I was always very respectful, I would never talk back to teachers. Lester grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness, and so when he rebelled, he went full on and he couldn’t stop himself from telling the truth. And he would tell people exactly what it was he heard in their music, which drove some people crazy and also made some people love him. But you know, I remember being up at Columbia, CBS Records, back before it was Sony, with Lester, we walked into a publicist’s office. You know, and I was there…
Whiskey: Wait, what did you just say?
Brian: I’m sorry.
Whiskey: CBS Records sold to the Japanese?
Brian: No, no, yeah, before Columbia was sold to Sony back in the day.
Whiskey: What year did Sony get sold to Columbia?
Brian: Well Sony I guess took over sometime…
Whiskey: Columbia, yeah, reverse.
Brian: I don’t know, I can’t keep track. See everything is about time, isn’t it? It was sometime in the eighties.
Whiskey: Are you sure?
Brian: So, no. I’m not, I’m not even sure that the Japanese actually own it, I think it’s a bunch of Albanian’s who are somewhere sitting in a basement laundering records.
Whiskey: I, yeah, yeah, yeah, I have a dad who did a bunch of stuff with Columbia, Sony. So you know, I am kind of curious as to how CBS Records became Sony Records. I mean Central Broadcasting System is you know, a pretty far reach from Sony Columbia.
Brian: Well, you know, I guess at some point, you know, look there was a long period where the record business, the music business was, you know, either a bunch of like really passionate enthusiasts like Jack Holtzman who set up Elektra in you know a basement somewhere with just a little tape recorder and people like Tracy Stern over in Nonesuch and Maynard Solomon at Vanguard. And then somehow gangsters got involved because I guess partly because of juke boxes, partly because entertainment is always a sort of funny, a funny scene in which money changes hands, but never actually arrives at it’s logical destination. And I guess around the time that, before, certainly before CD’s came into fashion.
Whiskey: My Landlord was a bartender at CBGB’s for about twenty years.
Brian: Well who was he? What’s his name or her name?
Brian: Huh? Well I probably know them, or they probably know me, I probably forgot to tip them a few times. So please ask them to forgive me. But you know it’s, you know at some point things went from being sort of either very cool or very local or scuzzy businesses, to being multinational corporations. And when it all became multinational, the money changed in really unfortunate ways. You know, it’s really scary when you’re in a business where people would rather lose a lot of money than make a little bit. Does that make any sense to you?
Whiskey: People would rather lose a lot of money to…
Brian: Okay, let me give you an example.
Whiskey: Brainwash culture with non, what is it? Non authentic…
Brian: No, step away from brainwashing for a second because it’s actually both simpler and more complicated I think. There was a funny little period back about thirty years ago when I was working with two different artists who were both on Arista Records. Louden Wainwright and for about ten minutes we had the same manager, so I was on tour opening for him. And a guy named David Foreman who was a wonderful, wonderful songwriter and really interesting singer, beautiful singer, sounded like a cross between Al Green and Aaron Neville and wrote some songs that Nate Deville did and made a couple of beautiful records. Anyway, David Foreman’s first album cost over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to make, and it sold about thirty-five copies.
Whiskey: What like Electric Lady Studio style, full production?
Brian: Yeah, full production. Joel Dorn produced it, and they had like a, you know, full orchestra on a few tracks. I don’t know where all the money went, but people used to get big advances and people used to spend money, because it was, you know, there was a period not that long ago where the more money you spent, the more seriously people would take you.
Whiskey: I think, as somebody who lives in New York and on Staten Island, I have to say I think that still exists and I hate it.
Brian: Well it doesn’t exist in the record business as much because you know, I used to produce records for a few little labels and my friends who were producing for the bigger labels would laugh at me because I would always be able to bring in a record for about fifteen thousand dollars. And they would say, you know, that’s impossible, you can’t make a record for less than seventy-five thousand.
Whiskey: Yeah, totally, after distro costs, I mean you would have to send that shit out to everybody, all of the people in magazines, newspapers, and radio, television.
Brian: Well that’s a whole other thing. Let’s not go there, but…
Whiskey: Well what’s that like, you’ve got to print like what? Five thousand CD’s just to get people to listen to your track, as opposed to now, where you can post something on YouTube and you know, just share it to five thousand people.
Brian: Well let me finish the train of thought for a second. So David made a record that cost two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and it sold nothing. At the same time, Louden made a record that cost fifty thousand dollars to make and that sold about thirty thousand copies. So his album made money, now not a lot, but his album probably generated like a hundred thousand to a hundred and fifty thousand dollars in profit. And David’s album was a loss of probably after they did promotion and everything about four hundred thousand. So the powers that be at the record label dropped Louden because he was only making a little bit for them, but they kept David. They resigned him because it was a tax loss for them, because they were looking at it going, ah this guy you know maybe at the end of the day we made a hundred grand from Louden, but we lost four hundred thousand on David Foreman, we should spend more money on him. So they could basically take a loss because they were only looking at the size of the number, not whether it was in the positive or negative side.
Whiskey: Oh my goodness.
Brian: So it’s the opposite of money.
Whiskey: The opposite of money. That’s, well I think you found WFKU. Opposite of money, here we are Internet Radio. But yeah, that’s a very hard story, man.
Brian: But that is the world that we used to live in, and you know, I think the good news for you know, for a lot of us right now who are lifers, you know, who are basically going to play music whether three people show up or you know thirty thousand, is most of the sharks have left the pool. You know, most of the people who were trying to exploit the cracks in the system as it were have moved on to technology or to opening restaurants, or to I don’t know, you know, maybe taking over the Fire Department in Staten Island. But they’re not in the record business.
Whiskey: No, I don’t think so, there’s no money in the Fire Department.
Brian: You know, there isn’t now. But you know.
Whiskey: Raze Staten Island or we will burn it to the ground and we will fund the Fire Department.
Brian: But it does seem like, almost anyone who is making, you know, making music now or working for what passes as a record label is there because some part of them can’t live without it. And that’s not the way it was, you know, I remember those meetings with A and R people with executives at labels and it was really scary, you know, the sort of questions that people would ask and the sort of expectations that people had really had nothing to do with what it is that I do, whatever that is. And…
Whiskey: Well it’s very different from the Wrecking Crew in Los Angeles, right? Like, you know, you came in on the heels of a completely fake industry where everything was, where the recording costs were so expensive that everything had to be perfect.
Brian: But God bless the Wrecking Crew, and God, I thought that movie could have been a whole lot better, but I don’t think that the musicians could have been any better, you know.
Whiskey: Truth to that, and truth to Tony, you know, hell yeah. But you know essentially you get the idea, I mean you came from New York and you were writing your own material, you were producing your own things, and you know, walking into the perfect world of the seventies and how the music industry used to work before things like VHS and YouTube and I’m sorry I say the same shit over and over, but…
Brian: Yeah, but I always gravitated to the parts of the world where money wasn’t a factor, and you know, I wound up in London when I was seventeen and the first time I played a club over there, apart from that bad experience at Bungees, I opened for Nick Drake and I mean he certainly was, you know, not making more than about forty or fifty pounds a week from his music. And none of the people that I really admired, you know, John Martin, and Sandy Denny, and Richard Thompson, and The Incredible String Band, all of these people that are semi-legendary were just a bunch of people who were playing music and writing songs and hoping to get a gig next week and hoping to get a gig the week after. And the thing that was, you know, very similar about the scene there, very similar to the scene here, is because it wasn’t being driven by money, I mean that part of the scene wasn’t, it was all on the fringe. No one was looking for the best bass player, or the hottest guitarist, they were looking for someone who was pretty good, who they were in sync with, and who they would want to go have a drink with after the show. You know, I mean this wasn’t, these weren’t people who were super ambitious who were looking to get to the top, these were people who were not really career oriented, you know, this was something they were doing and they were doing it because they couldn’t help it. If they could have basically gotten the same satisfaction being computer programmers they probably would. They probably would be doing that. In fact, they’re probably computer programmers out there right now that could be writing songs like Pink Moon, but they’re getting satisfaction out of you know writing code.
Whiskey: I would have to agree, you know, like the person I get along with most at this point in my life is Sebastian who I would say is my best friend and he’s also the radio programmer. And you know the only person I’m willing to bother, and yeah, I mean there is a lot of beauty in the code, there’s a lot of beauty in the new world. Media and creativity sort of, I mean it might suffer in everything wonderful, new and old, is going to get buried under just a constant stream of crap. And that kind of sucks. As you said about a curator, and things along those lines, and I take this pretty seriously. But at the end of the day, I mean the ability and how things are going and the fact that things are progressing, you know, sometimes I talk to teenagers, and they are so God damn smart. I mean like, whereas adults might not know what the Emancipation Proclamation is, or like, you know, where Vermont is on a map, you know, things along those lines…
Brian: I don’t…
Whiskey: The kids are fairly educated.
Brian: I’m sorry.
Whiskey: Isolated, but educated.
Brian: Well, you know, God bless, you know, I have a teenage son and you know, I learn from him every day. You know, he knows so much more stuff than I did at that age, and he knows so much more than I do now. I mean the great thing about people who are that young is they just don’t have that many finger prints on them, so the lens is pretty clear. And their ability to see through bullshit is pretty extraordinary.
Whiskey: Some of them, yeah I completely agree, I think there’s a lot of hope in this world. Like a lot, a lot of hope. And I don’t think music is dead and I don’t know what shape or form it will take, and I don’t know how to make any money off of it, and I don’t know a lot of things, but you know, I have hope. Anyway Brian.
Brian: Well it’s, listen that’s all we can do is take it one song at a time, and you know, every song that works is a victory. You know, every cup of coffee that is hot and fresh and that, you know, sort of wakes you up is like a huge moral achievement, and a way forward in the world I think.
Whiskey: I think so too. And every day is a good one, and you know, as we can’t all understand the opposite of time because frankly it might not, it has to exist, everything has to exist, that has to exist. But…
Brian: It does, it’s an album, it’s on Sunnyside. It’s available.
Whiskey: You can purchase it now on Bandcamp.
Brian: No you can get it on Amazon, or you can go to my website and stream it.
Whiskey: Oh cool.
Brian: www dot brian cullman dot com.
Whiskey: Only available on Amazon.
Brian: Shameless. No, it’s available all sorts of places, but you know, it’s, I don’t care if people buy it or stream it, or I just hope people will listen to it and you know, it’s like, you know, you make dinner and you hope somebody will come by and eat it. It’s as simple as that.
Whiskey: And on that note, if any of you out there are listening, give Brian some feedback. Say hey man, I really dug your stuff. Or you know, you could really like, let me hip you to this, or whatever you’ve got to say to Brian Cullman, but hit him up on his website, listen to the CD, download the CD, and…
Brian: And have a cup of coffee for me.
Whiskey: And have a cup of coffee for Brian. So thank you, and what I’m going to do now is, I think is play a whole bunch of witch house, I’m not sure, I’m going to actually just go through all of my favorites from last week and what I’ve sorted and I think is actually more of just the week before. But…
Brian: Well I’ll tune in and I’ll be listening.
Whiskey: Thank you, I’ve got forty minutes left.
Whiskey: Very much appreciate it, super duper appreciate it. Anything you need from WFKU hit me up, I’m here, and you’ve been wonderful.
Brian: Thanks so much for including me, I really appreciate it.
Whiskey: Ditto, okay, bye.
Brian: Cheers, bye-bye.
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