The touring buddies talk nudity, ass-licking and intentional epilepsy
We're exclusively giving away tickets to see the controversy-courting Kirin J Callinan at Visions festival in London alongside !!!, Fucked Up and the Haxan Cloak. Follow Dazed and Confused on Twitter and retweet our link to win.
Taken from the July Issue of Dazed & Confused:
Cult psych-slop-pop creator Ariel Pink and confrontational performance musician Kirin J Callinan have been touring the States for a couple of months, getting weird looks and rocking sell-out shows in their underpants. Before they set off on their raucous rampage, Dazed tagged along to the odd couple's first official meeting near Heritage Square, which is full of that rare LA sight: buildings over 100 years old. Kirin even managed to suppress his need to get naked. Well, almost...
Kirin J Callinan: I wouldn't be dressed now unless I'd just got off a plane. I found out my grandma was a nudist as well. This came out at my dad's brother's 50th.
Ariel Pink: You can totally be nude now if you want.
KJC: I find it very comfortable.
AP: It's an empowering thing, I would imagine. To be in a situation where you're the only naked one. It's kind of like step one of getting up onstage, for instance: facing your demons.
KJC: It helps live up this larger-than-life rock-star dream, just taking your shirt off!
AP: This tour was pitched to me via Christian, my booking agent. He also mentioned that I knew you as well.
I was like, "Okay, I know everybody, that doesn't narrow it down."
KJC: In fairness, I don't think you know what you've got yourself into.
AP: If you like to alienate your audience as much as I do, then you'e on the right track.
KJC: I've never toured around America before. I'm gonna have Creedence Clearwater and Hendrix in my head.
It's like a cliché rock dream.
AP: It's just like that. Except it's kind of like that meets the trains that go to Auschwitz. I've never seen you perform live. I don't look at YouTube clips from shows, because I don't want people to do that to me. It doesn't capture the artist in a light that they have approved, necessarily.
KJC: There's not much magic.
AP: But people might actually not show up if we banned filming. They might boycott us. I'd like to be able to walk down the street and not have anyone take my picture. I'd like a lot of things. But I don't care really, it doesn't matter to me. What's your set-up?
KJC: I have a guitar and pedals and a couple of amps.
AP: Did you bring the amps with you?
KJC: I didn't...
AP: You could use ours?
KJC: I wouldn't want to do that. I work for Roland back home, so...
AP: We've been trying to get sponsorship! That's great man, we use a lot of Roland equipment. Look at this behind-the-scenes ass-licking that happens! I have more in common with the common man than most performers because I feel scared silly up there. That manifests itself in many absurd and humiliating ways. I'm vulnerable up there.
KJC: 'Creepy' is definitely the word to describe my onstage persona.
AP: That word has also been used to describe me. I think it's creepy because it's something that people are not familiar with seeing onstage.
KJC: It's not about what you actually say, it's the fact that you're there.
AP: The fact that you are a person, and they are there and are supposed to be in this rapt hypnosis and you're presiding over this ritual. You don't know if some joke is being played on you. It's disconcerting to people. What does it say about me that I'm here with all these people, and what does it say about these people? I've interacted a lot with my audiences. I did a whole tour when I was French kissing everybody I possibly could. By the end I was like, 'This is disgusting, this is really, really gross.' I kissed some really fucking fat, nasty
KJC: I haven't said much about it publicly before, but once I basically proposed the idea to the audience that I wanted to give someone an epileptic fit. I wanted to assault them with strobes.
AP: The Japanese might be into that.
KJC: I had an epileptic that I met at a children's hospital visiting his son planted in the audience. There were a lot of upset people. The truth of the matter is I had a number of actors playing the parts.
AP: The truth of the matter is that epilepsy is a very controversial and largely misunderstood condition.
It's just like allergies. It's not real. It's all symptomatic of something strange going on. It's kind of like seeing UFOs. It's your body acting up and shutting down because it's been trained to - you've allowed yourself to get into those states. I'm a doctor, I know. Anyway, we're about to play a show in the Hollywood Forever cemetery. We wanna raise the dead. The room's got surprisingly good acoustics - there's not many places that sound good in LA.
KJC: The bodies might actually help absorb the sound. You know when you do a soundcheck and nobody's
in the room...
AP: When we get those deep rumbling tones, it'll be good padding.
KJC: I played a crypt in Sydney recently, a place called St James' Chruch - underneath there's a massive crypt where they used to burn bodies. Occasionally there's a classical recital there. I don't know why they let us in there, but we paid the money and stuffed it full of living people. It was incredibly loud.
AP: I've been touring for nine years now, 200 days out of every year. I'm trying to get myself to the place where I don't tour, but touring has been my primary source of income - not making music, which is what I like to do. I'd like to just stay at home and talk to people on Snapchat. I get homesick when I'm at home because when I get home I'm on vacation.
KJC: I've been touring for about that long as well, but with different bands. The problem with touring Australia is that it's ten hours between every city. I was 18 when I started touring - Lost Valentinos were my first touring band.
AP: The weirdest place I've slept when on the road is probably in people's houses. We don't accept that kind of thing any more. We don't accept any charity. Any time you go to England some guy's like, 'We've got a mansion,' and then you go there and there's like, a torn-out wall and 16 bicycles. I sleep in my little cubby-hole. That's gonna be about the weirdest place you're gonna sleep.
KJC: Performing live and recording music are totally different things. Musicians and artists are expected to do both really well, but they have nothing to do with each other.
AP: Yeah, they have nothing to do with each other.
KJC: It's like if a painter was expected to be a really good sculptor as well.
AP: The visual side of the music isn't that important to me.
KJC: For me it's really important. It's probably my favourite way to enjoy music, watching video clips. Maybe that's a very Australian thing. There's a show in Australia where every Friday and Saturday night it's just video clips.
AP: I have a reputation for canning stuff. I've got into the habit of telling my record label, 'Just give me the money and I'll figure it out. I'll make you a video I like.' That's what I've been doing the last couple of times.
KJC: It's a bit of an adolescent romantic thing for me. My last video cost $1,000.
AP: It's all smoke and mirrors. Even if you pay $10,000 all you're really doing is paying for the director's fee. He'll gather up his standard crew and not pay them anything - it's a sad state of affairs. People are just stealing money that doesn't exist. What was the first music you got into?
KJC: I was really into speed metal when I was younger.
AP: My sense of identity came from being a metal fan and being alienated from the rest of the world. I didn't have anyone who was into metal with me. It was the equivalent of being a Columbine kid. And then I became a record-store indie-clerk asshole.
KJC: I had a friend. We had a two-piece metal band.
AP: What were you guys called?
KJC: The Allied. In a big eye that we drew. We smoked a lot of pot.
AP: In elementary school I started a death-metal band called The Kraken and then Gore Growl during the Napalm Death time period. We wanted to have a patented gore growl. (growls)
NAME: Kirin J Callinan
PLACE OF BIRTH: Eastwood, Sydney
WHAT YOU KNEW: Releases his debut solo album, Embracism, on July 1. Mixed by Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor, it's coming out on Taylor's Terrible Records imprint.
WHAT YOU DIDN'T: Won an award from Aussie indie station Triple J for the stark, ultra-disturbing video for his track, 'Way II War'.
PREVIOUS: WIIW / Thighs 7" (Terrible Records, 2012), She 7" (Siberia Records, 2010)
NAME: Ariel Pink
PLACE OF BIRTH: California
WHAT YOU KNEW: Released his last album, the acclaimed Mature Themes, under the Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti name last summer. Recently modelled for Saint Laurent Paris.
WHAT YOU DIDN'T: Decided to sack his last band after a life-changing trip to Australia. Keen on moving there full-time. Callinan has warned against it.
PREVIOUS: Before Today (4AD, 2010), The Doldrums (Paw Tracks, 2004)