Original Interview Date: 1/10/17
Shaine Schroeder: So I’m here with Phil Bjorneberg- PHIL!!!… How are you today?
Phil Bjorneberg: Just fine, Shaine. Thank you.
SS: So what should we talk about? I’m doing a kind of new, ah, I have, my plan is that I have no plan when I go into these things. Which I’ve found kind of works out for the better because then people are a little more comfortable and aren’t worried about the questions that I’ve sat around thinking about specifically for them.
PB: I’m always comfortable with you so it’s fine, yeah. We can talk about anything, you know.
SS: You’re a sweetheart.
PB: We can get into movies, music, whatever you want.
SS: Yeah, man! We’re both movie buffs. I’m a little bit of a music buff, but more towards the hiphop end of the spectrum. But I wanted to know first and foremost- how did you feel when Nick Hornby wrote a novel about your life?
SS: …And then later on sold it to John Cusack for probably millions of dollars and you didn’t see any of it?
PB: Yeah, it’s, I’ve told this story a bunch of times before, but ah, one of my best friends Mike Rutten and his wife, and Jennifer my wife and I went to see ‘High Fidelity’ in the theaters, and about twenty minutes in his wife looked over at us and goes, “this is you guys.” I don’t know if I’m quite as snarky as those guys but we’ve got all the same arcane details and all the histories and constantly making mix-tapes for certain moods and certain days. I’ve got a rainy day CD, we’re constantly doing things like all the employees in that film.
SS: So there’s so much I want to talk to you about but I really don’t know where to start. I know that you have an adorable dog that I’m absolutely in love with that looks exactly like Mark Twain. I know that, I haven’t known you that long, I think about five years.
PB: We met at one of your art shows, I bought a print of yours.
SS: Yes and I told you about our dearly departed friend who bought the original with a sack of quarters bigger than my head and when I stared at him in disbelief, he said “motherfucker, it all spends the same,” and walked away. That was my icebreaker story with you.
PB: I just cashed in change at the bank and they told me they’re no longer changing coin for paper.
SS: Jesus Christ, now we’re gonna have to go to CoinStar at Walmart to cash in- well, why are we talking about CoinStar? Ok, so, for those that don’t know- Phil is without question the most knowledgeable person I’ve ever met in my entire life when it comes to all things music. I mean, I wouldn’t even know where to begin with what the sub genres are but I would say punk is at the top of your list, right?
PB: Right, right.
SS: How did you delve into that?
PB: Always been a huge music fan and when I was, um, I don’t know, thirteen, fourteen- Kiss was my first big love and then went into Ted Nugent and Judas Priest and I remember my brother used to give me so much crap because he had so much better taste than me, but when you’re young you listen to what everybody else is listening to. So he was kind of trying to force some stuff on me and he went to college down in St. Louis and he was an art major down there and he started telling me about some of these funky bands he was seeing out of England and Ireland. He din’t see them, but he talked about them, specifically this group called the Sex Pistols. He said you’ve gotta check this stuff out, it’s pretty raw and it’s really interesting and right around that same time I was listening to KEOR at Augustana, 89.1 and they had a great radio station, they played a lot of alternative, off-the-wall stuff, and I remember hearing “God Save The Queen” on there when I was fifteen or sixteen, and this thunderbolt went through me and I was like WOAH! This is… really something, I remember Johnny Rotten’s voice, rolling his R’s and there was a lot of anger in there. I was reading Hit Parader a lot at the time, it was kind of like a hard rock mag, but they started having reviews of all these seven inch singles coming out of England by The Buzzcocks and The Vibrators, and all this New York stuff- The Ramones and Television, and Patti Smith.
SS: God I love Television. God damn they’re good.
PB: Yeah, it’s just amazing. Speaking of the devil, Red Leaves, this new Rich Show / Mark Romanowski band - very, very influenced by Television. They play a lot around Sioux Falls now so check them out if you get a chance. And back then there was a record store before Ernie November’s called Iron Creek, which was kind of where that bar The Nickel Spot is now. I remember just going in there for hours and digging through everything.
SS: Losing yourself.
PB: Yeah, just buying stuff. Pre-internet, pre-computer, pre-anything. A lot of times we just bought stuff strictly based on the album covers. Guys that looked cool or weird, or the names were strange. So that’s kind of where it all started.
SS: Isn’t it weird though, that, nowadays with the internet, I mean it sounds so cliche to even say that phrase, but even ten, fifteen, twenty years ago, if you got a record or a CD or a tape or whatever, you fell in love with it because it was a kind of prized possession because that’s something you found on your own in your niche at fucking Disc Jockey or whatever was around then. Even if you didn’t like it, there was a certain attachment because it reminded you of a time in your life or a feeling or what have you. But then you would realize once you got older and started traveling and going to shows and talking to people and shit like that, maybe these people had known about them ten years prior to when you discovered them. And so it’s a strange circumstance now that the Midwest is on par with the east coast and west coast and the rest of the world because now as soon as something comes out, we all know about it. Is it kind of like, has it lost- well, maybe that’s not the right way to put it, ah maybe it is- has it lost some of its luster? Discovering something new?
PB: I was just gonna say I hope you were going to use that word. Yeah, yeah. Because there was something back then that was special and sacred. I totally agree with that. When I look back at my record collection now, the ones that I have in that little group of 250, 300 albums right now that- probably gonna have a hard time getting rid of. Just, they’ve got that special place in your heart. And I remember, almost every one of them where I found it. There’s this great little twelve inch EP, I love Australian and New Zealand stuff, and it’s got this great, weird pop stuff from the eighties off this record label called ‘Flying Nun’, and there’s this band called ‘The Clean’. And I remember digging through and finding this really cool album in Minneapolis at ‘Northern Lights’ just down the street from First Avenue on the corner of 7th and Hennepin there and it was this beautiful record store , that’s of course now long gone. I can go through my collection and just recall everything, like man- I remember finding that in Chicago. And if I look that album up now, it’s so rare, and I just happened to be there that day at the right time, and it was super special. Nowadays you can download or stream on Spotify. I don’t do any of those things though. I still like to just listen to the things that I’m buying and try not to be influenced by other things. But it definitely was much more special back then, finding things and taking chances on something that clicked. Y’know- never heard of this but it looked cool and then it becomes one of your all time favorites.
SS: Sure. I also feel bad for new generations because they won’t have that level of exclusivity in their lives like when they stumble upon something now, it’s not just theirs, it’s everybody’s. I mean, I don’t collect records, but when I was growing up I collected baseball cards and shit like that. Now it’s basically shifted to fine art prints of artists that I’ve always loved, and I’m finally at a point where I can comfortably afford to get a couple here and there, and so I’ve started building this collection. But at the same time, if I were to talk to some kid who’s eighteen, and say, hey I just bought this art print, ah, I’m gonna hang it on my wall, they’d probably look at me and say, well- you can see that exact same image on his website. And I’m like, no- I mean, you don’t understand. But you’d have a hard time convincing them of that. It seems like if something was taken away from them, there wouldn’t be nearly as much melancholy as there would be for us. Does that make any sense?
PB: I agree, oh yeah, totally. I’ve never had a hard time selling CDs, I have a couple that are pretty weird and funky and rare that I’m hanging on to, but I’ve always had a hard time- there’s something about having that big square cover and that piece of vinyl and being able to read the lyrics. There’s just never been the same attachment to a CD. And again, that might just be me, you get all those weird vinyl-files like me that have that same feeling, but it’s like, it sounds better, it feels better, it’s solid, it’s big. You don’t have to get a magnifying glass out to read the lyrics. (Laughs) So, another thing I remembered back in the days was, you knew people that you’d probably get along with that were like you because of the t-shirts they wore. You’d go to shows and they’d go “Wow! You like those guys?!” And you’d make connections with people because of it. It was like your own personality bumper sticker in place of tattoos. People would say, man I love Joy Division, or whatever.
SS: But is it a sin in the music community to wear the t-shirt of the band that you’re going to see, or is that some wive’s tale?
PB: (Laughs) No, you know what, that’s actually a great question. I think I do kind of shy away from that. Although i do when I go see Rich Show and those guys I do wear, I’ve got a couple of old Violet t-shirts.
SS: Yeah, but that’s local, though, you know it’s a little more grass roots.
PB: Yeah, I agree with you. When we went and saw Flogging Molly last year out at The District, I didn’t have their shirt but I wore an old Pogues t-shirt that I got at one of their Chicago shows and a guy came up at Flogging Molly and said, “Oh, Pogues fan? Are they reproducing those shirts?” and I’m like no, I bought that at a show twenty-five years ago, and he looked at me like, shit- you’re that old?! (Laughs)
SS: Even being thirty-three years old I feel like an old man now because everything is progressing so fast. You said you got that Pogues shirt twenty-five years ago but I’m sure you could easily get a reproduction online for eight bucks.
PB: Or go to Brogan and have him recreate it or something. Yeah, you know we grew up with no cell phones, no remote controls for the tv, three channels, no cable, so I’ve seen some massive changes like that too. I think it’s every generation, it’s all relative.
SS: True. And I think we can take solace in the fact that no matter how things change, or how we stay the same, good is always gonna be good. If you were to play one of your favorite records for somebody nowadays, they’d be like, “Holy shit! Who’s this?” Which is the greatest thing about music is that it transcends time. If you hear something and it strikes a chord with you, there’s no duplicating that feeling with any drug or by any other means.
PB: Going back to High Fidelity, there’s that great scene where he puts on this Irish punk band called Stiff Little Fingers who are just amazing, and Green Day was hugely influenced by them, and a customer comes up and says, “Is this Green Day?” and he says no, no. And there’s that next scene where- did you know The Beta Band?
SS: I love The Beta Band!
PB: See I’d never known about them until that movie.
SS: Exactly! That’s what I was gonna say- I’d only discovered them through that film.
PB: And I’ve never really gone back and bought anything but I really love that song.
SS: That particular song, I think is their best, and then they have like two or three other really good ones, and the rest are just kind of like, they’re not bad, they’re just so much different than those.
PB: I love when he says, “watch now as I sell five copies of The Beta Band.” The whole store starts nodding their head to it.
SS: They’re like, “Who’s that?…” He goes “The Beta Band.” The customer goes, “It’s good.” He goes, “I know.” That’s a total Phil Bjorneberg line! (Laughs)
SS: Yeah, man that’s a great movie, and a completely accurate depiction of your life, except for the fact that you don’t go around sleeping with every woman in Chicago. Aside from that it’s pretty spot on.
SS: But there is a certain level of- once you know a lot about a certain subject, it’s hard not to be smarmy. Does that sound right?
PB: Oh, yeah, yeah.
SS: Like they talk shit about themselves in that film, how they know so much about music and the other guys ask why they shit on everybody else for not being an encyclopedia of music, and they’re thinking it should be painfully obvious that everyone should know about these things because they’re worth knowing.
PB: Well you’re like that too, I mean you’re obviously like that with art.
SS: Oh, yes I’m an arrogant prick, ask anyone.
PB: (Laughs) Well, no I simply mean you can talk forever about art, you can talk about movies, and a lot of stuff. But I remember when I had my first music rummage sale two summers ago and you and Katie came and hung out for a while.
SS: Oh yeah! It was so much fun.
PB: You ate like, what- fourteen hot dogs?… (laughs)
SS: Well, we don’t want to talk about that here.
PB: But, no, I remember guys coming over and we’d start going off on a tangent and talking to people and to me it’s just natural, who knows why my brain works that way, and who knows why I remember that stuff. But everybody I think has that subject that they can go into incredible detail about. Justin Haper came over and we talked about Devo forever and all this weird, off the wall stuff, and after he left, you said “Jesus Christ! How do you know all that stuff?” And I don’t know, it’s just there.
SS: The thing of it is, for me- I interjected what little I could, but mostly I was just standing back watching. It was like I bought tickets to a fucking play or something. Because, for what a short conversation that was- ten, maybe fifteen minutes, it was better than going to any school for music ever, because I just sat there and soaked it in. Because it was that dense- in a good way. It was just amazing to me that people know that much about any given thing, it was just fun to watch.
PB: Going back to your statement about young people nowadays- that’s what’s been so cool about Total Drag opening up with Dan and Liz. I’ve been seeing so many shows there and I’ve met so many cool people. And it’s like, my whole new group of friends- you’re like the oldest out of this whole new group I’ve come into contact with. But it keeps you young, you know? But you talk to people like Keaton and Lindy Wise and they’re talking about The Cramps and Christian Death and Sisters of Mercy, and all these older goth bands from when I was in college, and I’m like, that was thirty years ago, how do you guys know about them?! But then I think about what I was like, I was digging into this stuff. But it’s fun to find these people, this common thread throughout the generations. When I was their age I was coming into Iggy and The Stooges and mid-sixties Who, and The Beatles and all this stuff that was there when I was five years old that I was falling in love with.
SS: So do you think it’s a bad thing when you hear these artists so near and dear to your heart on a car commercial or something of the like? I’m almost positive I heard Iggy on an advertisement for some major retailer or something recently. I mean Led Zeppelin was always big, but not to the point where they were licensing their music for a car commercial. Is that weird for you to hear that shit?
PB: With Iggy, I have no problem because there are so many people that made money off of stuff that copied him, if you dig back. Green Day, I mean I really love them, especially their early stuff, and they’re really cool about saying, we wish Bad Religion and Stiff Little Fingers and these guys would’ve made all this money that we’re making because we simply came along and stood on the shoulders of giants. I mean you hear about people worried about “selling out” and stuff, and I have no problem with those guys putting their music out by any means necessary. I always think it’s great, you’re watching shitty commercials, and all of a sudden you hear “Search and Destroy” pop on, that amazing riff, and it makes the corporate culture a bit more palatable.
SS: Yeah. I kinda want to drive a Lincoln Town Car now.
PB: (Laughs) I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything ever because of a commercial. But there must be something to it if they continue to spend millions on licensing. But it’s cool to hear all this great music on there now.
SS: It is. And I don’t think- I think when I was young and broke, I got more mad about people selling out- because I had no money (Laughs), but then the older you get, you’re like, oh, well- why wouldn’t you?
PB: Especially guys that got passed over or were those underground stars, those who never quite clicked within the mainstream for whatever reason. Wrong place wrong time, or whatever. I have no issue with those guys making some money after the fact.
SS: But that’s the thing- for the people out there that say they’re selling out- well, what should they do? Should they just be broke and desperate the rest of their lives? I just think that if the people who consider these bands as sellouts were offered one tenth of the paycheck they’re offered, they’d snatch it up in a heartbeat. I think it’s just good old fashioned jealousy.
PB: I know I’ve been guilty of that too, not so much mad that they were making money, but that once they did their music didn’t have as much of an edge because now they were comfortable and secure. There were punk bands that were on little independent labels like SST or Twin Tome. Like Husker Du was this great band from the Twin Cities and they were on the California based label SST and then when they signed with Warner Brothers or whatever they got all the backlash, and they still released great music but it’s weird when they lose that edge.
SS: It is strange for any artist of any art form to slowly but surely transition into being a businessman or woman as well, unless you have an agent or manager who handles that shit for you, which I’m sure a lot of these musicians do. But when you first start, and you get an offer, I’m sure there’s a lot of make-believe involved where you have to put on the cap like you actually know what you’re doing and pretend to have a business degree basically. And you don’t. You only know what you’ve seen in movies and this and that. I would imagine it’s a hard transition. Green Day is one of the bands that’s probably the most commercially successful. They have a fucking Broadway play. It’s not a bad thing, just a bizarre combination of artistic elements fusing together.
PB: Think of you as an artist now at- how old are you?
PB: Thirty-three? I was gonna say thirty-six, shit.
SS: My god, I gotta start shaving.
PB: Yeah. But think of your art now versus ten years ago, I mean don’t you think you would’ve matured and advanced and changed, you don’t want to be painting the same paintings ten years later. Just like musicians writing songs at eighteen when they’re angry about everything in the world and then you’re making an album at twenty-eight when you’re married and have a kid. Obviously you’re style is going to change. Green Day has obviously changed but they’ve kept that same energy throughout all their albums.
SS: With them specifically, you hear a single of theirs come on the radio and instantly recognize, like you said, the energy. But it is different. And it’s got everything to do with life experience. Now they’re set for life, so they don’t really have anything to bitch about, so they have to kind of pull back and find what originally made them click. And it becomes that thing where, are we now telling the truth in our lyrics or are we catering to the audience that originally got us fame? So it’s one of those weird tipping points where you have to ask if you’re becoming a caricature of yourself.
SS: The image that you originally wanted to encompass, you became that, and became wildly successful, but what made you that image that you had of yourself in your head the whole time is now no longer you because you’re successful. So what the fuck do you do now?
PB: I’m not anti- Mick Jagger by any means, but he’s a caricature of himself at this point.
SS: Yeah, I suppose so. I mean, I love The Stones, they’re one of my all time favorites. “Exile On Main Street”? I fucking play that every time I paint. One of my favorite lyrics is off the opener for that album, a track called “Rocks Off”, all the drums and guitars kind of hush for a second and all of a sudden Jagger comes in with the line “The sunshine bores the daylights outta me.” I love that lyric. I’d always liked them, but I fell in love with them over that one lyric.
PB: Yes! I’m a huge lyric geek too, I’m one of those guys that always enjoyed doodling favorite lyrics in college and high school notebooks. The one that sticks out immediately is from Joy Division, I think it’s the first line in the first song of their first album, his stuff was so dark- and became darker after the suicide considering all these lyrics could’ve been not-so-subtle hints, but the line says “I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand.” Which I thought was so visual, you know. And it’s very haunting.
SS: I think that’s part of having the gift. You could also, as a musician, write the most bland, banal lyric you’ve ever heard in your entire life, but if a certain person says it with a certain cadence, it can cut incredibly deep. You hear that person’s entire life experience in one line if they do it right.
PB: Another just popped in my head “ I look beyond the day at hand and there’s nothing there at all.” Pretty macabre. Even if he were still alive it’d be pretty haunting.
SS: Yeah, no shit.
PB: I’ve always found the darker stuff interesting though. Before my mom passed they did some sort of lineage test and found out I was related to Friedrich Nietzsche. (Laughs). To go back- do you have any artists you love that have “sold out”? And were they influenced by their heroes?
SS: Yes. Especially recently. There’s a rash of them. But it’s tough to go through- even for me in what I do, it’s tough to navigate life, ok- so, when I was eighteen I found this amazing magazine called Juxtapoz. Nowadays it’s the contemporary art bible and is held in high regard, but back then it was still kind of small. I believe it was founded by Robert Williams, who did the art for “Appetite For Destruction”. And it was also co-founded by Greg Escalante who now has his own gallery out in Los Angeles. But- anyway, they made this magazine and I stumbled on my first copy and I saw the artwork of Glenn Barr, who used to do the backgrounds for Ren & Stimpy.
PB: Oh! Great cartoon!
SS: Yeah, and so I finally found this magazine that spoke to me in such a way that led me to believe, oh, I can do what I love to do, and possibly even make a living at it down the road. But since then I’ve sucked up so much culture to the point where it’s almost too much, and it’s almost impossible not to regurgitate all of the things you’ve been influenced by. The techniques that they taught me. If I write something, or if I paint, in the back of my head I can instantly recognize where I learned the technique from and I feel like a fucking fraud sometimes. So my question to you then, is how do you think someone like Green Day deals with all this life-changing influence they’ve received from the Stiff Little Fingers? How do you keep pushing out new product with your own voice, when your voice was so heavily influenced by others?
PB: But that’s the thing, do you want them to put out the same album four times? You love their style but if they put something else out, you think, oh you guys suck now, why’d you change?
SS: Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Have you ever met any of your heroes?
PB: I’ve never known what it was about these English art punks that spoke to this innocent kid from South Dakota, must be in my DNA but, I mean, I had to look up what “being on the dole” was. (Laughs). I think it was just that there was so much anger in that stuff, but even though I was a pretty happy kid it spoke to me. But The Clash- so me and some friends drove to Minneapolis and were partying in this crappy hotel before the show and there were all these punk rockers in the motel that were from Winnipeg. So we went to the show and didn’t hang around, didn’t know any better, and went back to the motel and drank beer, and the Winnipeg guys were back and I chatted with them and had some shitty sake'. They asked if I’d seen Strummer that night, and I was like “What?” And they said The Clash would stay backstage and talk to basically anybody that wanted to come back. They’ll stay there for hours. We went back and talked to them for a while. And my heart dropped, because if I had known that, oh man. But they say “never meet your heroes,” in this case I don’t think I would’ve been disappointed. I think he was very true to himself and honest and loved talking to fans. That’s the one thing I kind of kick myself for after all these years. And he’s passed away now too, so. Hung out with The Cramps a bit, but just small doses, I don’t think anything major. How about you- have you met any of what you would call a hero?
SS: Yeah, here and there. I mean I’ve met a lot of people that I’ve liked to a certain degree. Mostly artists, musicians, and then a handful of actors. I’ve never really met a hero though. I’ve spoken to one on the phone, that’s about it.
PB: We walked into a Holiday Inn near a venue where we were going to see The Replacements and Westerberg was alone at the bar. It was a holy shit moment because prior to that we’d kind of been doing some “light stalking” around area bars knowing that they liked to drink a bit. But it’s always weird, because you don’t want to force yourself into their headspace. But I went up and said, “Hey, man how you doing? Big fan.” And I went to see them in Chicago a month prior, bought a t-shirt of theirs not knowing it was a bootleg, and I had it on when I ran into Westerberg. (laughs) And so I’m wearing it and Westerberg looks at it like, what the fuck is that? He actually said it was a bootleg, and I was mortified, but he kind of smiled, he was just giving me shit. And at that point he goes, “Hey Tommy, Chris, come in here- check out this guys shirt, he’s ripping us off!” (Laughs). But he was super nice and I didn’t want to overstay my welcome, but as I left I said, “Hey no big deal but I love “Answering Machine” it’s one of my all-time favorite songs. If you think about it, we’d love to hear it tonight.” And we took off. And later that night, I didn’t hear it but my friend said, onstage Paul goes “Hey Phil, I remembered,” before they went into it.
SS: That’s amazing. You don’t often hear those stories that end in such a way. So… you started a music blog.
PB: Yeah, the Facebook page is “In A Lonely Place; Phil’s Music Blog.” Facebook business pages are tricky though.
SS: Well we’ll provide a link to it so we can hopefully get some more traction for you. We’ll give you some shine. Facebook business pages are strange though, they’re money-oriented. If you pay to boost your ads, then it’ll work but otherwise it’s hit or miss.
PB: Yeah, this is just my attempt to expose some of the greatest things I’ve encountered over the years. There’s no income from it, I’m just genuinely interested in everything music and want to provide a broadened horizon for those who might want it.
SS: So I’m gonna put you on the spot here. For anyone reading this who may want to begin expanding those horizons into genres they haven’t previously dipped into, what would be your “Top Five” albums as a starting point?
PB: This changes with the weather, but as of right now I’d have to go with the following:
1.) “London calling” by The Clash.
2.) “Let It Be” by The Replacements
3.) “Rocket To Russia” by The Ramones
4.) “Eternally Yours” by The Saints
5.) “Throb Throb” by Naked Raygun
SS: I was incredibly proud of myself because I recently got the Phil Bjorneberg stamp of musical approval when I went on a trip with my girlfriend to Philadelphia and saw a group I’d never heard about before called “Guided By Voices.” They were one of ten acts at this festival and aside from maybe one other, were the only one that had any sort of impact on me.
PB: Yes! You texting me and making me feel jealous of a show was odd considering you’re mostly into hip hop. But yeah, that would’ve been awesome. And of course Robert Pollard, the singer is known for literally drinking a case of beer during a live show, which is unbelievable.
SS: Well they had a short set, so he only got to maybe fourteen.
PB: I had a chance to see them in Denver at Riot Fest, and also got to see Iggy play with the surviving members of The Stooges. And also it was that first Replacements reunion show. And Guided By Voices was there but they don’t seem like an outdoor, four in the afternoon type of band.
SS: They’re not. You need a small, dark, intimate venue for these guys to really shine.
PB: And then “Against Me” was playing and it was when their lead singer was going through a sex change, and they were big at that time and they just crushed it, it was amazing. Unbelievable how good they were.
SS: So I’ll wrap everything up with a nice little bow, here. Every time you and I go out for beers, the conversation always turns to film because you and I are both obsessed with movies. And the sad part is, I don’t really watch much in the way of new films, because I think a vast majority of material released in the last decade sucks. Which is why I want to start to make movies- because so many are just fucking terrible.
PB: Oh, well this is new- I’ve never heard this!
SS: Well this has always been one of my fantasies. Even respected directors are pumping out an ungodly amount of mediocrity. Having said that, I’m going to ask you for a list, again, unfortunately, of some of your favorites recently. Doesn’t have to be a top five.
PB: I think I bought you a few…
SS: You did. And I watched “The Sting” and loved it. It’s strange because back then they had different ratings standards. I think, if I’m not mistaken, it’s rated PG. But there are quite a few racial slurs, and things of that nature.
PB: Well when Scarface came out, it had an X rating because of the violence. In particular the shower scene when they cut his arm off. And when you compare it to movies today it’s so minor.
SS: But you can show as much tit as you want. But not male genitalia, to my knowledge. The standards are so weird. Who’s in charge of these things? Not that I’m pining to see male genitalia…
PB: (Laughs) Alright, so movies… “The Conversation” with Gene Hackman.
SS: He came into Barnes and Noble once when I was working in their music department in Scottsdale. I never met him though. And Dennis Farina would come in all the time and talk to me about the Rat Pack. He recently died. I always loved him. Especially in “Get Shorty” as Ray Bones. But we would shoot the shit about Sinatra and Deano and everyone, then he would get into his red Toyota and drive away.
PB: (Laughs). You have to see “Apocalypse Now” and “Deer Hunter.”
SS: Rapid fire time. Without thinking- all time favorite album?
PB: “London Calling.” Clash.
SS: All time favorite film.
PB: “Lost In Translation.” Sofia Coppola.
SS: All time favorite book.
PB: In high school it was “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo. The book is amazing. Huge Bukowski fan. Oh! “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut. Favorite book.
SS: Phil, it’s been a pleasure. Any parting words for the audience? I could talk to you for hours, and we will continue to do so after this ends, but this might have to be it for the written word. Plus I have enough beer in me to kill horse.
PB: (Laughs.) Well hopefully something we talked about makes you want to go out and dig into it. Whether it’s music or art or books or movies. Go out an find those things and, just because we like them doesn’t mean you will, but at least give it a shot and try something different. Keep an open mind. I can’t believe I’m fifty-three years old but I don’t feel it because of the folks I’ve met over the past few years, including Shaine here.
SS: And you have a beautiful life, and a beautiful wife, and a beautiful dog.
PB: Yes! And going back, one of the first encounters we had with you was when you met our dog Klaus you said he looked exactly like Mark Twain, so we commissioned a painting of him and it’s a treasure because he looks exactly like him. He’s got the eyebrows and mustache and even a tobacco pipe hanging out of his mouth. So I’ve been blessed with great friends. So thanks to all of you guys.
SS: Phil, thanks for sitting down with me.