When I arrived in NYC in early October, the remnants of Hurricane Ian were still turning the city into a nasty soupy mess. I visited Eric Fischer at the Frying Pan pier complex a few days before our event there, and the wind and waves were violently shooting up through the dock. But on Oct. 6, the weather and party gods shined on us and gave us a completely perfect NY evening. Luckily Eric, who pretty much built much of the pier complex and has been involved with running and maintaining the ships for decades, is the hardest working person in showbiz and pushed me to try to hammer out every detail before the event. We had special gold wristbands, a fancy ‘chickfactor’ cocktail ready as a special for the event, and even a special vegan menu. Eric’s wife, Christina, procured our giant inflatable CF30 letters. Josh “Other Music” Madell helped me wrangle my least favorite part of setting up shows: PA and backline. Our sound person Mike Yesenosky usually works with the Magnetic Fields, so we were very lucky to have him tonight!
When Beatrix Madell, the 14-year-old who formed a band called Girl Scout Handbook for our CF30 NY party on the Frying Pan, asked her mom (longtime CF contributor Dawn Sutter Madell) what makes a song a chickfactor song, Dawn told her it would have to be a song “Gail likes.” But it’s clear that, between the folks who contribute to, read, support, and sell the zine and the folks who play at and attend our events, there is a community of like-minded folks out there that like similar tunes!
Girl Scout Handbook, a group of 12- to 14-year-olds from Brooklyn, took the stage right as fireworks were going off out in the Hudson River. Helicopters were swooping into the pier next to ours as well. GSH’s set was made up of covers chosen specifically for the event: The Zombies, Heavenly, the Spinanes, Lois, B&S and it was amazing! So great! They only practiced four times and already got written up in the New Yorker! Watching their proud parents watch them was so heart-warming. What a way to start the show!
Next up was DUMP, Brooklyn’s James McNew, who slayed the crowd with his solo set of classics from his repertoire and ace covers. The Jim Ruiz Set, as they often do, came all the way from the Twin Cities to make us swoon to their easy listening pop gems. And the Aluminum Group also flew in from Detroit and Chicago to show the world why it needs to listen to their fab new album. DJs Gaylord Fields and Stephin Merritt helped us keep things humming in between. Artist Kevin Alvir was offering quick portraits on demand, and the Aluminum Group brought a boutique’s worth of fun merch and handmade garlands. It was such a great night full of all kinds of people from different generations enjoying the venue, the music and each other’s company. Thanks to everyone who played, came to the event, and helped out (especially Eric and Christina, Josh and Dawn, and Y-Mike!)
Christina Riley / Artsick Chickfactor 30 NY and London Oakland Weekender 2022 Glasgow Breaks from social media Rock and Roll Vegan Donut bar in Monterey White Lotus season 2 on HBO Simon Guild guitar pedals Meditation Chickfactor 19 issue, and shirt designed by Jen Sbragia Buzzcocks tribute compilation cassette for Oakland Weekender 2022
BONUS: -Pop sockets for saving my phone from the swiper on a bike in London, haha!
Bridget St John my list: a collection of some of the meaningful/impactful/grateful and awe inspiring experiences of 2022
Nicola Walker – magnetic irresistible UK actor
The Split – I could make the whole list revolve around her and the other extraordinary actors she works with…
Colin Farrell & Jamie Lee Curtis Actors on Actors
Brady’s Irish Ground Coffee / Celtic Blend
Banshee’s of Inishereen
every Adirondack sunset
the caeser’s salad at Da Umberto in NYC
Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard
WNYC – especially The Brian Lehrer Show & Fresh Air
Hampstead – with Brendan Gleeson & Diane
the daily, weekly, monthly endless resilience strength tenacity and spirit of the Ukrainian people
Jennifer O’Connor / musician, owner of Kiam Records and Main Street Beat Lizzo – Special (Atlantic) Flock – Flock (Strut) Mabe Fratti – Se Ve Desde Aqui (Tin Angel) Beach House – Once Twice Melody (Sub Pop) Megan Thee Stallion – Traumazine (300 Entertainment) They Hate Change – Finally, New (Jagjaguwar) Harry Styles – Harry’s House (Columbia) Cass McCombs – Heartland (Anti) Sudan Archives – Natural Brown Prom Queen (Stones Throw) Madonna – Finally Enough Love (Rhino/Warner)
Daniel Handler’s favorite books this year: Kathryn Davis, Aurelia Aurelia Fadhil al-Azzawi, Fadhil al-Azzawi’s Beautiful Creatures Jakuta Alikavazovic translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman, Night as it Falls Chen Chen, Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced An Emergency Fanny Howe, London-rose/beauty will save the world Hiromi Ito, translated by Jeffrey Angles, Wild Grass On the Riverbank Geoffrey Nutter, Giant Moth Perishes Carl Phillips, Then The War Keiler Roberts, The Joy of Quitting Peter Rock, Passersthrough Kathleen Scanlan, Kick The Latch
Jim Ruiz and Emily Ruiz from Jim Ruiz Set
9 T.V. series from the ’60s that got us through the pandemic and beyond. 1. Danger Man (a.k.a. Secret Agent Man) 2. Gidget 3. The Saint 4. Batman 5. Hawaii 5-0 6. Mission Impossible 7. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 8. The Girl from U.N.C.L.E 9. Mannix
Lyle Hysen (Bank Robber Music and Royal Arctic Institute)
Mike Baggetta / Jim Keltner / Mike Watt (Big Ego) Everywhen We Go Dezron Douglas – Atalaya (International Anthem) Hermanos Gutiérrez – El Bueno Y El Malo (Easy Eye Sound) Hammered Hulls – Careening (Dischord) Horse Lords- Comradely Objects (Rvng Intl). Julian Lage – View With A Room (Blue Note) Beth Orton – Weather Alive (Partisan) Jeff Parker – Mondays at The Enfield Tennis Academy (Eremite Records) Romero –Turn It On – (Cool Death) Stella – Up and away (Sub-Pop)
Travis Elborough In no particular order – I ended up listening to quite a few things on cassette this year, one consequence of spending 10 days in bed with Covid in April with only my walkman to hand for audio entertainment, and probably als0 vinyl pressing plant backlogs but here’s some stuff that hit my ears this year. – baker’s top 10 at 11
Artist/Album Loop – Sonacy Kemper Norton – Rife (cassette) Opal X – Twister (cassette) Telefis – a Dó (cassette) Blue Spectre – Silver Screen Cosey Fanni Tutti – Delia Derbyshire soundtrack album Andrew Poppy – Jelly Robyn Hitchcock – Shuttlemania (cassette and LP) The Advisory Circle – Full Circle Xopher Davidson – Lux Perpetua Nkisi – NDOMBALA (A Journey to Avebury)
Ed Mazzucco (Shelflife Records / Tears Run Rings) 1. Billow Observatory – Stareside 2. RxGibbs – Eternal 3. Motifs – Remember A Stranger 4. Life On Venus – Homewards 5. Martin Courtney – Magic Sign 6. Marine Eyes – Chamomile 7. Humdrum – Superbloom 8. Foliage – Can’t Go Anywhere 9. Jeanines – Don’t Wait For A Sign 10. Korine – Mt. Airy
Julie Underwood (CF contributor!) 1. Beyoncé – Renaissance 2. Wet Leg – Wet Leg 3. Alvvays – Blue Rev 4. Alex G – God Save The Animals 5. Angel Olsen – Big Time 6. The Beths – Expert In A Dying Field 7. Plains – I Walked With You A Ways 8. Weyes Blood – And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow 9. Sasami – Squeeze 10. Yard Act – The Overload
Kendall Meade (Mascott, CF contributor)
Songs on repeat 2022 “San Francisco” Bonny Doon “Problem With It” and “Abeline” Plains “Mistakes” Sharon Van Etten “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody” Weyes Blood “Anti Hero” Taylor Swift “Daylight” Harry Styles
Beatrix Madell (Girl Scout Handbook) My top ten songs of all time from the members of Boygenius: 1) “Night Shift,” Lucy Dacus 2) “Chelsea,” Phoebe Bridgers 3) “I Know the End,” Phoebe Bridgers 4) “Hot and Heavy,” Lucy Dacus 5) “Waiting Room,” Phoebe Bridgers 6) “Timefighter,” Lucy Dacus 7) “Graceland Too,” Phoebe Bridgers 8) “Me and My Dog,” Boygenius 9) “Song in E,” Julien Baker 10) “Punisher,” Phoebe Bridgers
Some Stars of 2022 Both Welcome and Unwelcome
Excellent books that are also mysteries: The Book of the Most Precious Substance by Sara Gran The Violin Conspiracy: a novel by Brendan Slocumb Vera Kelly: Lost and Found by Rosalie Knecht The Second Cut by Louise Welch The Verifiers by Jane Pek The Maid by Nita Prose Homicide and Halo-Halo by Mia. P. Manansala The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill Confidence by Denise Mina
despair over Ukraine (et al)
Podsies: my ability to tolerate current news became I guess you’d say…refracted (?) i.e. bearable only by hearing it through other countries’ news like The Rest is Politics, or through the lens of a specific frame like the art world, The Week in Art or The Art Angle (scammers too). Gave esotericism a twirl with The Secret History of Western Esotericism, yikes, I do not have any idea what Earl Fountainelle was talking about much of the time, but interesting all the same. Also enjoyed for different moods and needs: Shedunnit, Art Law Podcast, The Witch Wave, The Read, Bad Gays, Don’t Ask Tig, The Bald and the Beautiful, My Favorite Murder.
Scottish Rite Masonic Museum, Salem Witch Board Museum (Ouija boards)
what is the word where you don’t want to mention anything for fear of forgetting something, i.e. some standout 2022 shows: id m theft able outdoor show in Elfland, Paulownia at Waterworks.
tried to figure out what to do about mortality
reading play aloud – The Mousetrap on a writing retreat – very fun, recommend
Desus and Mero breakup. All right, sad, but I console myself: a) performers-writers-artists need to grow and sometimes that means change b) think of all they gave us
finally watched Lord of the Rings for details of that experience read here
Brittney Griner WTF and thank god
if nothing else may I please recommend @archaeologyart on the instagrammo
Rob Pursey (The Catenary Wires, Skep Wax Records, Swansea Sound, Heavenly, etc.) After a long pandemic period of not going out I made a list of ten places I liked to visit and was very very happy to re-visit.
1. Rye Church Tower. You have to pay, but not very much, to climb up to the top of this beautiful old building. Narrow stone corridors, creaking wooden staircases, and then you climb a rickety ladder right next to the huge church bells – try to not to do this at midday – and then you’re out onto the tower roof through a trapezium-shaped wooden door. You get to admire the aerial view of this perfect hill-town and of the marshes and Dungeness in the distance. 2. The Betsey Trotwood, London. One of those venues that had to fight for survival during the pandemic. A warm, sanctuary of music. Always has friends in it. 3. Larkins Ale House, Cranbrook. A tiny purveyor of local ale. Very hospitable. On the first Sunday we went in, they asked if we wanted a free snack and handed over a plateful of them, like a free meal really. The beer is perfect. 4. Fairfield Church. A peculiar, isolated survivor on the Kent Marsh and now a place where we are able to put on Skep Arts events. No water, no electricity, no light. Beautifully basic. 5. The Oast, Rainham. Another lovely little venue where our friends at Careful Now Promotions somehow manage to book the best indie bands, every month. 6. The De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea. An art gallery, a cafe, a great record shop (Music’s Not Dead), all housed in one of the most beautiful Twentieth Century public buildings, right by the sea. 7. Nutmeg Cafe, Tenterden. Best local coffee, friendly staff, dangerous pastries. 8. The Ellen Terry Theatre, Smallhythe. Another place that became a Skep Arts venue this year. A thatched barn, converted into a theatre by a Suffragette group in the early Twentieth Century. I don’t think there is anywhere else like this in the world. 9. London Bridge Station. I am still awestruck by the roof and the pillars of this huge building. It’s worth going to London just to see it. 10. The Chinese Supermarket in Hastings. Everything you need is here – all kinds of noodles, of rice, of spices. And home-made bao buns in the steamer by the check-out.
Joe Brooker (Pines / Foxgloves / CF contributor) 2022 Top 10
1 / Close-Up I’d long known of Shoreditch’s Close-Up Film Centre, but only in 2022 did I actually pay for membership and start watching films here: Bergman’s Persona for the first time, Godard’s Le Mépris for at least the sixth, Spanish films of the 1970s, in the little cinema where film abruptly starts as a light in the darkness. I love the array of thousands of DVDs to browse any time. The place reminds me a little of the Poetry Café, which I once knew as another oasis of culture.
2 / Chloe Under-the-radar BBC drama about identity and imposture, memory and teen friendship, social climbing and social media, all refreshingly based in the West Country.
3 / Ride As a student in Norwich I missed seeing Ride though they played only a few hundred yards away from me. Now by contrast I travel a hundred miles back to Norwich to see them play their debut LP Nowhere. Some of the audience are younger than I was then. The music is marvellous and fresh, but above all I just love the idea of seeing Ride in Norwich.
4 / Bordando el manto terrestre In the vast last room of Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders exhibition I’m stunned to encounter Remedios Varo’s triptych of paintings Bordando el manto terrestre / Embroidering the Earth’s Crust (1961). I’ve read about this painting, looked at reproductions, so many times that I feel a rare awe before the original painting, with its size, texture and detail. In the same year, I might say something similar of Manet’s Un bar aux Folies Bergère (1882), which I’m taken aback to find in the Courtauld.
5 / Isokon Building Hampstead is a storied place but not well known to this South Londoner. A friend shows me around it: mile after mile of avenues green with trees, well-preserved housing, modernist outliers. Down a side street, flowering suburbia like Tolkien’s Hobbiton, I see for the first time the art deco Lawn Road Flats, known as the Isokon Building. Cherished by the many lovers of modern architecture, it’s spectacular: pure white, curved, its stairwell magnificent; an ocean liner.
6 / Sandymount Strand James Joyce’s Ulysses was published in 1922, and set in Dublin on 16th June. On 16th June 2022, a Joycean friend leads me out to Sandymount Strand, to retrace the steps of Stephen Dedalus in the novel’s third episode, as evening falls instead of the book’s morning. Almost alone amid the vast space we step across wet mud, puddles, treacherous ground, as a calm dusk slowly dims all around us. Finally we must take off our shoes and socks to paddle across streams, maybe similar ones to those that Dedalus feared would sweep him away with the tide.
7 / The Magnetic Fields Touching down in West London they play Quickies and representatives from most of their other records; songs I think I’ve never heard live, like ‘Love Goes Home To Paris In The Spring’ and ‘It’s Only Time’. The encore yields ‘100,000 Fireflies’. I don’t recall them sounding better, and the set list offers what now feels like one standard after another, a great American songbook of its own.
8 / Ross Macdonald Ross Macdonald is like Raymond Chandler twenty years on: still droll and tough, but private eye Lew Archer tours a changing California with meditative sympathy as well as pugilistic ability. I find that I can read one of his novels in a day, if I do nothing else. I could tell you the titles, but to a degree the novels are happily interchangeable, intricate permutations of recurring features: Archer’s police contacts and helpers, wealthy clients, runaway girls and boys, seedy trailer-park characters or desk clerks. I feel that I could read them forever; there are eighteen, but perhaps a sophisticated artificial intelligence could generate many more. Archer’s narrative voice is laconic, often very humorous, but also every couple of pages flashes into descriptive fire, a margin of writerly excess.
9 / Helen Saunders at the Courtauld She was a modernist painter (1885-1963), associated with the Vorticist movement of the 1910s. Typically enough, the work of the era’s women artists often became obscured, and curators have lately sought to reclaim them from history: in Saunders’ case, culminating in this one-room gathering of her work at the Courtauld Gallery. The retrieval is worthwhile. Saunders’ lines and strokes are clear and bold. She seems to draw and paint with conviction and native talent. Some of her pictures are figurative, showing a mother and child, a house, a canal. Some are much more abstract, imagined patterns and designs, but often with some resemblance to a real-world object or experience. She would merit a larger exhibition, of whatever work has survived the decades of neglect.
10 / The Cure I have loved The Cure for decades, from a distance; never seen them, and often had the impression that my last chance to see them had already passed. But when their lengthy European tour reaches Wembley Arena, at last I’m in the crowd: unusually early, standing as near the front as I can, waiting through a tedious support band. Before a bright picture of the turning Earth, Robert Smith tiptoes on to the stage like a child, peering shyly at the audience. They play numerous ‘new songs that will soon be old songs’, as Smith repeatedly says. They play relatively deep album cuts; few hits in the first two hours. The music is unblemished, the voice strong. Along the way, ‘Pictures of You’, ‘A Night Like This’, the extraordinary ‘Push’ which amazed me when I discovered it on vinyl aged 17. The final encore of rapid-fire bright hits Smith calls his ‘Sunday night disco’. I haven’t felt quite this way about a concert in a long time. Outside, snow is falling.
chickfactor fanzine was founded 30 years ago by Pam Berry & Gail O’Hara (in DC/NY) and we are celebrating by having some parties in New York! We are so excited to have a friend-reunion and see all these rad bands play!
October 6 at the Frying Pan The Aluminum Group Jim Ruiz Set Dump Girl Scout Handbook + DJs Stephin Merritt & Gaylord Fields Vegan options in the restaurant, nautical photo ops and portraits and other fun stuff! Get tickets
The Aluminum Group are the brothers John and Frank Navin of Chicago and Detroit, who recently released a wonderful new album. John says of this event: “Our performance is very audience interactive. We start with a brief demonstration and teach attendees how to make paper laurel necklaces, then we sing 5 new songs. Show a new short film by Frankie. Then sing sing 5 more songs from the new record, then encore with a new unreleased song from our next record, called ‘Punch The Lights Out Of This Crazy World.’”
Jim Ruiz Set Led by the Legendary Jim Ruiz (guitar, vocals), the set also features Emily Ruiz (drums, vocals), Mike Crabtree (lead guitar) and Charlotte Crabtree (bass, vocals). The Twin Cities outfit has been playing CF events since the olden days and never ever disappoints.
Dump Brooklyn’s James McNew is the force of nature behind Dump, which was interviewed in Chickfactor 8 back in 1994. Some of you may have heard of his other band, Condo Fucks. We are pretty sure that he will be playing solo tonight and that this is the only Dump show happening anywhere in 2022.
Girl Scout Handbook Girl Scout Handbook was formed by Brooklyn high school student Beatrix Madell, an avid musician and music fan. The band is technically 5 people, Madell, another guitar player, a drummer, a trumpet player, and a keyboard player. They will be doing a set of covers for tonight’s show!
Sat. Oct. 8:
Seablite is a four-piece pop band from San Francisco inspired by 80s/90s indie and shoegaze. In June 2019, Seablite’s LP debut, Grass Stains and Novocaine was released by Emotional Response, garnering domestic and international praise. They’ve since released a 10″ EP, High-Rise Mannequins (2020) and most recently their new single, Breadcrumbs c/w Ink Bleeds (2022). Seablite are back in the studio recording their sophomore LP and looking forward to what the upcoming year will bring. East Coast/NYC debut!
Artsickis an indiepop band from Oakland/Seaside, California, consisting of Christina Riley (Burnt Palms/Boyracer) on guitar and vocals, Mario Hernandez (Kids On A Crime Spree, Ciao Bella) on drums and Donna McKean (Lunchbox/Hard Left) on bass. They formed in 2018 and released a 7” inch single, followed by their debut album “Fingers Crossed,” on Slumberland Records. East Coast/NYC debut!
Jeanines specialize in ultra-short bursts of energetic but melancholy minor-key pop. With influences that run deep into the most crucial tributaries of DIY pop — Messthethics, the Television Personalities, Marine Girls, early Pastels, Dolly Mixture — they’ve crafted a style that is as individual as it is just plain pleasurable. Alicia Jeanine’s pure, unaffected voice muses wistfully on the illusions of time, while My Teenage Stride/Mick Trouble mastermind Jed Smith’s frantic Motown-esque drumming and inventive bass playing provide a thrilling rhythmic foundation.
Gary Olson OG Brooklynite Gary Olson is best known as the leader and founding member of The Ladybug Transistor, but he made a wonderful solo record in 2020 as well, and has collaborated with many bands including the Aislers Set. He also runs a famous studio in Brooklyn called Marlborough Farms, and will be playing as a duo tonight.
Doors 7pm, showtime 8pm. $20 advance; $25 at the door; advance two-day pass $40.
Tickets on sale at noon EST Monday, Feb 3!
Also will be available at Other Music.
Thursday, March 20
WITHERED HAND From Edinburgh and led by Dan Willson, the ace band has a brand-new second album, New Gods, coming out March 25 on Slumberland Records. It was produced by Tony Doogan (Mountain Goats, Belle & Sebastian, Mogwai, The Pastels) and features a stellar array of guests including members of Belle & Sebastian, Frightened Rabbit, Black Tambourine and The Vaselines. New Gods also features CF cofounder Pam Berry and a song called “Black Tambourine”! New single.
JIM RUIZ SET Hailing from Minneapolis, the legendary Jim Ruiz & Co. often play at CF parties. They released Mount Curve Avenue, their third LP, in 2012 and on vinyl in 2013 on Shelflife Records. Their jazzy Max Eider-influenced pop has always made us swoon. Tonight’s lineup is Jim Ruiz, Emily Ruiz on drums, Allison Labonne on bass, and Kim Serene on marimba and accordian. (Interview in CF9)
LILYS / KURT HEASLEY Super-talented East Coast (mostly DC, Virginia, Pennsylvania) songwriter Kurt Heasley has been putting out records as Lilys since 1991 that feature a noisy brand of pop we love. He has been working on some new material and will play some of that tonight.
AMOR DE DÍAS The London-based duo featuring Lupe Núñez-Fernández (Pipas) and Alasdair Maclean (see The Clientele) hasn’t toured in the US since 2011. They released a brilliant second album called The House at Sea on Merge Records in January 2013. The combination of Spanish guitar, English melancholy, the spirit of Gal Costa and a touch of cinematic magic makes them one of the most intriguing songwriting pairs working today. They’re currently making their third album. Recent track!
Friday, March 21
THE CLIENTELE Originally from Hampshire and now London, the Clientele is one of our fave pop acts of all time. This lineup featuring Alasdair Maclean, James Hornsey on bass and Mark Keen on drums hasn’t played together since 2005. The group hasn’t played in the US since 2010. These three got back in the studio for the first time since 2010 to record a new 7″ single for the Merge Records Thousands of Prizes thing, which is their first new material in 4 years. (interviewed in CF13)
VERSUS Many associate this band with ’90s indie rock but they put out a pretty bad-ass LP on Merge Records in 2010 titled On the Ones and Threes. Another “chickfactor house band,” Versus has switched off members over the years but this year will be the handsome Baluyut brothers Richard and Ed and foxy Fontaine Toups (CF Cover Girl issue 6).
BARBARA MANNING Barbara Manning used to be the poster girl for San Francisco, and has participated in some of the best pop music ever (with 28th Day, World of Pooh, SF Seals) and especially as a solo artist. She’s currently living in Long Beach and is a high-school chemistry teacher! We are very happy to have her on the lineup. CF Cover Girl issue 4.
THE SATURDAY PEOPLE This fab DC pop group hasn’t played in a while! Featuring the original lineup, which was Terry Banks (Dot Dash, Tree Fort Angst, glo-worm); Dan Searing (glo-worm); Greg Pavlovcak (Ropers); and Ara Hacopian. Interviewed in CF15.
chickfactor fanzine was started in 1992 by pam berry and gail o’hara in d.c./nyc.
it is no secret over here at CFHQ that we dig the jim ruiz set (and the legendary jim ruiz group before it). they’ve been playing at CF events since back in the 1990s, and pam berry had the good sense to interview them back in chickfactor #9. ruiz & co. recently released a fan-fricking-tastic (third album finally) album called mount curve avenue (the compact disc and “digital files” came out on allen clapp’s mystery lawn music label and korda records), and we are excited to tell the world the latest news about that record: jim ruiz set has teamed up with portland, oregon’s ace shelflife record company to put mount curve avenue out on light-blue vinyl! we cannot wait to get our chocolate-smudged fingers on a copy. read more over on the jim ruiz blog and preorder your light-blue vinyl copy right here. the interview that follows was conducted by allen clapp to run in advance of chickfactor 21 last month, but the lazy editor didn’t get it posted in time. enjoy!
chickfactor: jim, you’ve always had a unique blend of melancholy and humor in your songwriting (you even referred to your uncle as being something of a mexican woody allen in one of your songs). who are some other songwriters past or present who can do that thing you do?
jim ruiz: thanks, that’s very kind. I think you could probably trace it back to 1989 and listening to the jazz butcher sing “girlfriend,” “only a rumor” or max eider sing “D.R.I.N.K.” you don’t know whether to laugh or cry and maybe you just do both. they were able to be able to be incredibly funny but never cross into the realm of novelty. I suppose loudon wainright III does kind of the same thing. there’s no reason depressing confessional lyrics need to be so serious.
over the course of your three recorded albums, you cover a lot of musical ground, but there seem to be a few kinds of songs to which you gravitate: transportation songs, songs that mention or reference your musical heroes, and self-referential songs that look back on an earlier time in your life. is this coincidental, or are those the things that most occupy the mind of the legendary jim ruiz?
I don’t know what you’re talking about. okay, you’re on to me. I honestly didn’t think anyone would notice that! true, perhaps more than most people, I go back to the well. in my defense, I do tend to stop at three. for instance, “groningen,” “minneapolis,” and “mij amsterdam.” there were no city songs on this record (mount curve avenue), but if you got a good thing going, why not! who would have wanted to hear tony bennett follow up “I left my heart in san francisco” with “I’ll see you in oakland—next time!” and “down and out in redwood city?” I would have!
you’ve always been more of a mod than a rocker. is it easier to be a mod in 2013 than it was in the mid 1990s?
no, it’s easier to be a mod when you’re in your late teens or early 20s, no matter what year it is. even bradley wiggins (winner of last year’s tour de france) seems just too old to pull off the mod look. at some point you reach the “aging mod dude” status. of course when I look in the mirror I think “hey mod!” but luckily people around here just look at me and think “preppy.”
last time I saw you, I noticed your volkswagen vanagon had a decidedly non-stock color scheme. would you care to describe this? how many paint jobs has your famous van had during its lifetime?
the vanagon has only had two paint schemes but many brush coats. as you probably know, car rust is an inevitable fact of life in minnesota. luckily as a child I painted many model airplanes, mostly from WWII. I didn’t suspect I would later use that skill on my car, the transition was a natural and easy one.
what’s the best thing about playing a chickfactor show?
just being asked kind of blows my mind. in london gail bestowed on us the title of “chickfactor band.” it wasn’t a public ceremony, and it didn’t come with a little statue, but it’s a moment I’ll never forget and will always treasure.