Interview with: Bill Callahan
Location: Via Email
The first time I saw you was in 1998 at Reading festival where you had to compete with the noise of Ice T and Bodycount playing on the next stage. From what I remember you just had enough and walked off. Am I remembering this correctly? Has that ever happened before?
I don't think I've ever walked off a stage after having had enough. Festival sets are touch and go by nature. Because there are so many bands. Usually it is the stage crew telling you to end your set. This happened at the Dirty Three ATP. We'd only done about 70% of our set when the crew told us our time was up. It probably looks weird to audiences but that's the way it goes.
Who were the first people who made you want to be onstage?
I didn't have a desire to be on stage. I had a desire to make records. I made records for a couple years before ever playing a show. But once I started playing shows, something clicked in me. I realized that there was something to be learned from it. It is the trial place for a song. To try it out when its new, but also to test its longevity and litheness over time. So my love for it has borne out from something functional, not from a desire to be in a place.
Why was woke on a whale heart released under Bill Callahan rather than Smog?
For a change of scenery.
Do you ever sit and listen to your own records? If so, do you get annoyed at something you wished you had done differently?
I have to listen to all of my records once every ten years. The master plates get worn out after ten years so need to be re-plated, and then I have to listen to the new one to approve it. That's the only time I listen to my music after it's released.
Is there a lyric that you are particularly proud of?
I'm proud of it all. The fact that a song has reached the stage of being released means I have shown a great deal of patience. Patience not to release a bad song.
Do you do much correspondence with fanzines? Do you see them as a good thing or are they irrelevant at this time?
I'm not aware of their existence. I'd guess they have a life of their own that will do what it does.
What music were you listening to when you recorded " A River Ain't Too Much To Love"?
I was on a musical fast during that record. To try to get something unfettered.
How do you think the environment you recorded the album in affected the output of that record?
I don't think it did, really. I tried to make something of it in my head at the time to add some strength or flavor to the proceedings. But that's just a method of survival. No matter what you're still sweating over your guitar. It is nice out there at that studio. Its practically a deer preserve. So you feel like if the deer feel safe there, then it must be a good place.